What do we talk about when we talk about milpa? A conceptual approach to the significance, topics of research and impact of the mayan milpa system

The Maya milpa is an ancient agrarian system extended along Mesoamerica, widely known for the slash and burn
practices and the polyculture of maize, beans and squashes. Although the Maya milpa has more than three centuries
of history, there are several challenges that must be tackled in order to promote the preservation of the system. The
aim of this paper is to settle a new starting point in Maya milpa research through a synthesis around the analysis Maya
milpa concept, its main lines of research, and its environmental, social, and economic effects in the Yucatan
Peninsula. Our research methodology consisted of two different phases: a) the review and analysis of secondary
information (169 documents) by means of automated-curation of information (text mining methods) and manual
inspection, and b) the design, application, and analysis of 12 interviews using Yucatan Maya milpa researchers as
informants. Based on the results we propose some basic elements to consider for an integrative definition of the Maya
milpa, we highlight the information gaps described by researchers and checked by wordclouds, and we reveal the
most positive and negative impacts of the Maya milpa in terms of environmental, socio-cultural, and economic aspects.

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