This article examines incipient capitalism in a frontier town in Yucatán during the years preceding and following independence. It investigates one example in which a rural town is intimately connected to estate development. The town of Tekax, located on the southern frontier in colonial Yucatán, underwent radical change between 1780 and 1830. Political and agrarian upheaval coupled with the increasing production of sugarcane drew Spanish and Creole elites to Tekax, increased local property values, and drove the once majority Maya population into the countryside,drastically altering the ethnic distribution within this community. Inflated local property values triggered a real estate market in which the resident landholding Creole elite purchased and sold solares, or“household compounds,” largely among themselves as these became the primary indicators of one's prestige in the local community. Sugarcane production drove this market; Tekax's relative isolation maintained its insularity.

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