chapter  Chapter Seventeen
21 Pages

Ancient Maya rurality

Old assumptions, current research, and new directions
WithCéline C. Lamb

While terms like “rural” or “countryside” recall a myriad of images and experiences, rurality has lacked adequate definition in ancient Maya scholarship, as it is most often juxtaposed to the urban or assumed to fit within traditional peasant models. This chapter explores rural people, places, and experiences, on their own terms, to conceptualize ancient Maya rurality. I review the history of rural Maya archaeological research and its ties to rural studies scholarship. Surveying recent and current research, I then examine the most common variables used to define rurality to assess their applicability to the Preclassic and Classic Maya. I argue that intensity of social interactions and degrees of social familiarity may best define Maya rurality as an analytical concept. I conclude by proposing Halfacree’s (2006) framework for rurality—as imaginative, material, and practiced— and suggest directions for future research to enhance our understandings of the rural ancient Maya and society writ-large.