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Adam Kaeding

Greenleaf Visiting Library Scholar


PhD Student
Boston University

Photo: Adam  Kaeding

Adam Kaeding received a Greenleaf Visiting Library Award in Fall 2011 to support research on Maya Mobility on the Frontier of Colonial Yucatan.  At the time of the award, he was a doctoral candidate and teaching fellow in archaeology at Boston University.

Kaeding’s research focuses on Maya cultural survival under the circumstances of Spanish Colonialism in Belize and Mexico´s Yucatan Peninsula. He has experience excavating, surveying and mapping British and Spanish colonial sites in the US; Prehispanic and colonial Maya sites in Guatemala, Belize and Mexico; and Middle Bronze Age - Greek/Roman occupation in Northern Syria.



Title of Research : Maya Mobility on the Frontier of Colonial Yucatan

While at UNM, Kaeding drew upon library archives to examine how the conquest of the Maya of the Yucatán peninsula, though initiated in 1527, was considered officially successful by its chief protagonist Francisco de Montejo in 1547. Almost immediately, the documents of the Spanish colonial administration in Yucatán, both church and state, reflect a near-desperate concern with the crown's indigenous subjects either moving from town to town or altogether leaving the area under Spanish control. By focusing on the movements of specific residents as well as larger patterns of mobility on the Spanish Yucatán's southern border, the data collected during this project suggests that the complex of mobility strategies employed at the individual level was a key factor in some of the region's grandest historical events. The very existence of the mobility options discussed here insist that the even the agricultural residents of the frontier areas of the peninsula could never be controlled as a true peasantry. As a result, we see the persistence of many cultural and religious practices that Spaniards had long sought to eliminate. We see interpretations of Spanish and Christian law and custom that would appear heavily distorted in the eyes of the colonizers. Finally, we see this same nuanced mobility serve as not a sufficient but necessary factor for the instigation of a several indigenous uprisings that find their physical origins in the settlements of the frontier provinces. By referring largely to documents collected and analyzed by Dr. France V. Scholes, especially those that record the secular and mendicant efforts to combat idolatry among the Maya population and associated regional maps, this project sought to illustrate the fundamental colonial strategy of mobility as it was employed upon the defined landscape of the frontier of southern Yucatán.