A Land Without Gods

Process Theory, Maldevelopment and the Mexican Nahuas

By Daniel Buckles and Jacques M. Chevalier  

Paperback $34.95

In this theoretically innovative study of maldevelopment and power relations among the Nahuas of southern Veracruz, Chevalier and Buckles explore the impact of Mexico’s cattle ranching and petrochemical industries on milpa agriculture and rainforest environment. They also examine how national politics and economics affect native patterns of patrimonial culture and social organization. In the concluding chapter, an ascetic worldview illustrated through corn god mythology points to meaningful ways of countering current trends of social and ecological impoverishment.

This major work of scholarship tackles key issues in ecology and development, theories of the state, gender analysis and symbolic anthropology. Against rigid conceptions of capitalism and native society, the authors apply their own theory of process to the orderly and contradictory features of social history. Established ways of doing things – a mode of government, a way of livelihood, a kinship and narrative tradition – are shown to reflect the imposition of a ruling order, an unequal distribution of the proceeds of society, and the confrontation of classes and parties, genders and age-groups, spirits and humans struggling for power.

“A model of comprehensive, synthetic anthropology… Historically deep, ecologically subtle and symbolically rich while never slighting the key role of political economy.”

— James C. Scott, Eugene Meyer Professor of POlitical Science, Yale University

“A masterpiece – anthropology at its best. While offering new insights into Nahua cosmology, this book speaks to critical issues of native production systems and rainforest environment subjected to predatory forces of the state and the market economy. A ‘must’ for anyone interested in Mexican native people and rural development.”

— Luisa Paré, Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

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  • Daniel Buckles

    Dr. Daniel Buckles is a Senior Scientist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in El Batan, Mexico. He was formerly a professional artist, and his current work as an agricultural anthropologist has led him to deal with such topics as the development of sustainable agricultural systems, rural extension and policy analysis for natural resource management. He is a co-founder of the IDRC-funded project in the Sierra de Santa Marta with his co-author Dr. Chevalier and with Dr. Luisa Paré. He has recently completed a study of agricultural innovation entitled The Green Manure Revolution in Atlantic Honduras.

  • Jacques M. Chevalier

    Carleton University

    Dr. Jacques M. Chevalier, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University, Ottawa, has been part of the IDRC (International Development Research Centre) co-operative research project on sustainable development in the Sierra de Santa Marta, Mexico, since 1990. His scholarly interests have also included economics and kinship in native Latin America and semiotics as applied to a variety of disciplines, most recently to scriptural mythology. Among his publications are Civilization and the Stolen Gift: Capital, Kin, and Cult in Eastern Peru (Toronto University Press, 1982) and Semiotics, Romanticism and the Scriptures (Mouton de Gruyter, 1990).

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