Title

Politics with Style: Identity Formation in Prehispanic Southeastern Mesoamerica

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-2001

Abstract

Those seeking to ensconce themselves at the pinnacles of emerging sociopolitical hierarchies must forge alliances with both their immediate subordinates and distant peers. In the first case, allegiance to a polity that transcends extant and emerging sectarian affiliations must be achieved if the realm is to survive the passing of individual charismatic rulers. Cooperation with foreign leaders, in turn, guarantees a steady supply of political valuables useful in ensnaring clients within dependency relations that undergird sociopolitical hierarchy. Achievement of these objectives requires creation and propagation of at least two distinct social identities, one linking rulers and ruled within a polity and the other uniting paramounts in a network covering vast territorial expanses. In this article, we examine Late Classic (A.D. 600-950) material patterns from the Naco valley, northwestern Honduras, for the light they shed on the proposed integration of political and cultural processes within developing complex polities. The strategic manipulation of material symbols to fashion new affiliations and the implications of these identities for social change are also considered, [social identity, Mesoamerican archaeology, ideology, political contests, symbols]

Journal

American Anthroplogist

Volume

103

Issue

2

First Page

312

Last Page

330