Rooting in a Useless Land: Ancient Farmers, Celebrity Chefs, and Environmental Justice in Yucatan (Paperback)
In Rooting in a Useless Land, Chelsea Fisher examines the deep histories of environmental-justice conflicts in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. She draws on her innovative archaeological research in Yaxunah, an Indigenous Maya farming community dealing with land dispossession, but with a surprising twist: Yaxunah happens to be entangled with prestigious sustainable-development projects initiated by some of the most famous chefs in the world. Fisher contends that these sustainable-development initiatives inadvertently bolster the useless-land narrative—a colonial belief that Maya forests are empty wastelands—which has been driving Indigenous land dispossession and environmental injustice for centuries. Rooting in a Useless Land explores how archaeology, practiced within communities, can restore history and strengthen relationships built on contested ground.
Chelsea Fisher is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of South Carolina.