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The spatial and temporal dimensions of a rural landscape: the Yucatec Maya k'ax

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This article presents a case study of rural landscape concepts found in the indigenous Yucatec Maya area of Mexico. Of particular interest in this article is the contrast between the Maya conceptualization of the forest as essential to sustainable agriculture and a Western notion of the forest as the antithesis of agriculture. The former has created a tropical forest that is a product of Maya management and the basis of a sustained Maya society, whereas the latter leads to practices that destroy this forest producing a non-sustainable system. Cyclical landscape processes in the former contrast with linear landscape processes in the latter. In order to compare and contrast the landscapes, a model that identifies embedded concepts is used. It is proposed that the Maya system has an element of verticality and temporality leading to sustainability, a feature lacking in the Western conceptualization.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Latin American Studies/Department of Geography, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4 ( ), Email:

Publication date: March 1, 2007


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