The ethnoecology of maize variety management: A case study from Mexico

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70 Scopus citations


This paper presents a case study of the relationship between farmers' knowledge of maize varieties and their selection and management of these varieties under conditions of technological change. Research for this paper was done among Spanish-speaking small farmers in an ejido of central Chiapas, Mexico. This ejido is well integrated into the market, and the use of modem technologies is widespread. This research demonstrates that farmers have an extensive and widely shared knowledge of their maize varieties. This knowledge reflects objective maize characteristics. Variation occurs in the farmers' selection and management of maize varieties, but on average the variation deviates from a random pattern in the direction predicted by the farmers' knowledge base. They have incorporated the technological changes brought about by development into their knowledge base. Farmers maintain maize varieties with contrasting traits, and their knowledge base provides important information about which traits and constraints are important to them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-418
Number of pages30
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • indigenous knowledge
  • maize
  • Mexico
  • technological change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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