This comprehensive study of rural development in Guatemala first examines the nature of rural society in the late colonial period and early decades of independence, and then details the massive and enduring changes caused by the spread of large-scale coffee production after the mid-nineteenth century.
In the process, it also contributes to a number of important debates in Latin American studies and the theoretical literature of development: the structure of land tenure, the effects of the shift to export agriculure, the exploitation of indigenous populations, the forms of peasant resistance, and the role of state institutions in the politics of development.
The book is in two parts. Part I describes rural life and economy in Guatemala through the cochineal boom of the 1850's. Part II shows how coffee dramatically changed the economy of Guatemala.