This essay explores the history of the political structure of town and municipal authority in a specific case study of a Yucatec Maya community. The town is Pisté, a community that has become a significant tourist center that provides services for the nearby archaeological and tourist site of Chichén Itzá. A descriptive history of the town, mostly based in secondary literature and key primary sources from archives, is presented with two goals in mind. The first objective is to address ethnographically specific questions regarding the politics of this community, including the 1989 attempt to redefine itself as a “new” county according to Mexico's 1917 Revolutionary Constitution. The second objective is to raise questions and broader issues regarding new social movements, state formation analyzed from the “bottom-up,” the importance of the authority structure of the town/county as a governmental strategy of the Mexican state, and the ethnographic and historical study of the 1980s' crises in Yucatán. The case study contributes to Yucatec studies by pointing attention away from the political-economic core of Mérida, the usual institutions (church,hacienda, and highly capitalized economic sectors), and typical topics (e.g.,party politics, elite factionalism) that have been the focus of Yucatec historiography. By directing attention to areas (communities in the milpa zone) and topics (the political and cultural forms of rural communities) that have been marginalized by Yucatec historians but that have been a favored topic of U.S.-based cultural anthropologists seeking idealized Maya culture,this essay raises new research questions for which yet another rapprochement is necessary in Yucatec studies between the fields of history and cultural ethnography.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.