During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Yaxcabá, Yucatán, Mexico, the expansion of Spanish-American-owned cattle estates occurred in response to indigenous population growth and the implementation of the Bourbon political reforms. Although clearly described as haciendas in documentary sources, the estates demonstrate an architectural poverty that casts doubt on their ability to generate profits and their role in the transition to a market economy. This article proposes that architectural investment in rural areas may signal changes in entrepreneurial strategies before and after Mexican independence. When architecture is considered an independent variable, its economic role usefully may distinguish processes of market integration from storage of capital under tribute-based economies.

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