Coffee was introduced to Mexico in the late eighteenth century, but it was not until the late nineteenth century that wealthy European immigrants purchased “unregistered” land and invested in coffee cultivation. Displaced farmers, mostly indigenous, returned to the region as plantation workers and learned how to cultivate coffee. After the Mexican Revolution and when land reform reached the southern states, small farmers began cultivating coffee. Coffee transformed landscapes and people in southern Mexico and today continues to do so. Focusing on the Soconusco region of the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico, we examine how coffee landscapes affect people and nonhuman nature. In particular, we discuss how “technified” coffee landscapes affect biodiversity and created the conditions that may have led to the coffee rust outbreak in 2012.We also discuss the impact of the plantation system on social relations and the impact that this system has on permanent and temporary farmworkers. Finally, we explore potential connections between the ecological and social impacts of the plantation system in the Soconusco region.
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