© 2020

Culture, Environment and Health in the Yucatan Peninsula

A Human Ecology Perspective

  • Hugo Azcorra
  • Federico Dickinson

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Hugo Azcorra, Federico Dickinson
    Pages 1-8
  3. Living Conditions and Human Biology

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 37-37
    2. Barry Bogin, Hugo Azcorra, María Luisa Ávila-Escalante, María Teresa Castillo-Burguete, Maria Inês Varela-Silva, Federico Dickinson
      Pages 39-63
    3. Maria Inês Varela-Silva, Samantha Sanchez, Barry Bogin, Federico Dickinson, Hugo Azcorra
      Pages 65-75
    4. Hugo Azcorra, Barry Bogin, Maria Inês Varela-Silva, Federico Dickinson
      Pages 77-96
    5. Thomas Leatherman, Alan H. Goodman, J. Tobias Stillman
      Pages 97-120
    6. Amanda Veile, Sunny Asaf, Erik Otárola-Castillo, Karen L. Kramer
      Pages 159-176
    7. Lynnette Leidy Sievert, Laura Huicochea-Gómez, Diana Cahuich-Campos, Daniel E. Brown
      Pages 177-194
  4. Human Ecology from a Bioarchaeological Perspective

  5. Environment and Health

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 257-257
    2. Hugo Laviada-Molina, Oswaldo Huchim-Lara, Nina Méndez-Domínguez
      Pages 259-276
    3. Sally López-Osorno, Flor Árcega-Cabrera, José Luís Febles-Patrón, Almira L. Hoogesteijn
      Pages 277-291
    4. Carlos N. Ibarra-Cerdeña, Adriana González-Martínez, Alba R. Valdez-Tah, Claudia Guadalupe Chi-Méndez, María Teresa Castillo-Burguete, Janine M. Ramsey
      Pages 293-309

About this book


This book adopts a human ecology approach to present an overview of the biological responses to social, political, economic, cultural and environmental changes that affected human populations in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, since the Classic Maya Period. Human bodies express social relations, and we can read these relations by analyzing biological tissues or systems, and by measuring certain phenotypical traits at the population level. Departing from this theoretical premise, the contributors to this volume analyze the interactions between ecosystems, sociocultural systems and human biology in a specific geographic region to show how changes in sociocultural and natural environment affect the health of a population over time.  

This edited volume brings together contributions from a range of different scientific disciplines – such as biological anthropology, bioarchaeology, human biology, nutrition, epidemiology, ecotoxicology, political economy, sociology and ecology – that analyze the interactions between culture, environment and health in different domains of human life, such as:

  • The political ecology of food, nutrition and health
  • Impacts of social and economic changes in children’s diet and women’s fertility
  • Biological consequences of social vulnerability in urban areas
  • Impacts of toxic contamination of natural resources on human health
  • Ecological and sociocultural determinants of infectious diseases

Culture, Environment and Health in the Yucatan Peninsula – A Human Ecology Perspective will be of interest to researchers from the social, health and life sciences dedicated to the study of the interactions between natural environments, human biology, health and social issues, especially in fields such as biological and sociocultural anthropology, health promotion and environmental health. It will also be a useful tool to health professionals and public agents responsible for designing and applying public health policies in contexts of social vulnerability.


Human ecology Environment and health Yucatan peninsula Mayan populations Nutritional status Culture and health Living conditions and human biology Bioarchaeology and health Growth stunting

Editors and affiliations

  • Hugo Azcorra
    • 1
  • Federico Dickinson
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología Humana, Cinvestav-MéridaCentro de Investigaciones Silvio Zavala, Universidad ModeloMéridaMexico
  2. 2.Departamento de Ecología HumanaCinvestav-MéridaMéridaMexico

About the editors

Hugo Azcorra is a human biologist working in the the Department of Human Ecology at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute in Merida, Mexico (Cinvestav-Merida). He is interested in the biology of populations during early stages of growth and development and how biological conditions are shaped by environmental factors and intergenerational influences. The most of his research have been focused on how chronic adverse living conditions experienced by Mayan populations from Yucatan have impacted their biological conditions. 

Federico Dickinson is a Mexican biological anthropologist and human ecologist with a Sc.D. from the Polish Academy of Sciences. Dr. Dickinson is the founder of the Department of Human Ecology at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute in Merida, Mexico (Cinvestav-Merida), where he has developed his research lines on human growth in the last 33 years. 

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
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Public Health


“The target audience is experts on the ecology of nutrition and tropical disease, as well as medical authorities concerned with health in Mexico's far southeast. … This book brings together a set of top-quality research papers on medical ecology in the Yucatan Peninsula. … There is no comparable one-volume update on this area. The book should be of interest to anyone interested in tropical medicine or Latin American medical ecology.” (Eugene N. Anderson, Doody’s Book Reviews, May 1, 2020)