Title

History, Networks, and the Quest for Power: Ancient Political Competition in the Lower Motagua Valley, Guatemala

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-9-2012

Abstract

Capturing the fluid, dynamic interactions that constitute political form and change is best accomplished by adopting a network perspective. This approach calls attention to how power contests are waged close to the ground by self-reflexive agents who co-operate within wider webs to mobilize material and conceptual resources in support of common political projects. Political contests are, thus, waged within networks of networks in which decisions are made and across which the consequences of those choices are felt. This framework is used to disentangle the outcomes of a dramatic event in Mesoamerican prehistory: the beheading of one lowland Maya monarch by his erstwhile subordinate. The case study illustrates how political processes are best grasped as the results of initiatives instigated by variably well-informed agents of all ranks, living in diverse locales, who co-operate with some and compete with others to take advantage of new opportunities to define and meet their goals.

Journal

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Volume

18

Issue

1

First Page

1

Last Page

21