Plants in the "patxokon na": Tzotzil Maya homegardens in the highlands of southeastern Mexico
The Highland Maya of Chiapas, Mexico are integrated into local and regional market and economic systems in increasingly complex and challenging ways. The cultural and ecological diversity which characterize the region contribute other important dimensions for analysis of these patterns. Patterns of health, community infrastructure, and local agricultural systems are often affected by similar complex processes. This work is based on research and observations in the Tzotzil Maya municipality of Zinacantan and the productive space most closely related to the homegarden, the "patxokon na ". The plant composition and diversity of homegardens, as well as their management, are influenced by socioeconomic differences between and within communities, access to basic infrastructure such as water and roadways, as well as other cultural and ecological variables. Homegardens are directly related to "household security" by providing important resources associated with the health and nutritional well-being of these household members as well as a source of cash income through market sales of plant products and small livestock. This research was based primarily on data collected while working with a multi-disciplinary team of researchers at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, a federal research institute in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Ethnobotanical and ethnographic data were also collected during seven years of fieldwork and ethnographic observations made by the author. Extensive surveys were conducted on homegarden plant management and uses, complementing the demographic and ethnoepidemiological data gathered by our research group in the municipality of Zinacantan. Homegarden data on plant frequencies and reported uses was collected in each of these phases of fieldwork and was used to illustrate patterns in homegarden types and relative differences and similarities between communities. Focus communities within the study area provided a basis for analysis of comparative data on garden composition and a discussion of the principal variables involved. The homegardens functioned as a flexibly managed productive space, reflecting changes in gendered spheres of activity and management. By better understanding the cultural processes and ecological constraints which affect the gardens, knowledge generated from this study may be used to help more adequately assess development proposals and modifications proposed for homegardens for their feasibility or potential negative effects on household economies before they are implemented.
|Year of publication:||
|Authors:||Murray, Sara Jean|
Wayne State University
|Type of publication:||Other|
ETD Collection for Wayne State University
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