Enacting Power Through Networks
We argue here that processes of political centralization and hierarchy building can be profitably explored by focusing on how resources were strategically manipulated in search of power by people organized in social networks of varying sizes and spatial extents. Adopting this perspective encourages reconsideration of the ways in which such core concepts as structure, agency, and society can be redefined to cast new light on ancient power contests. In addition, we suggest that a network approach complements traditional emphases on processes of domination and resistance by drawing attention to the importance of alliances in shaping political formations. The potential utility of these precepts is illustrated in an example drawn from our research on Terminal Classic (800–1000 AD) political struggles in the Naco valley of northwestern Honduras. Special attention in this case centers on the manner in which craft products were manipulated by people of varying ranks to define and achieve goals as well as to control the actions of others. The study’s broader implications for the analysis of ancient political relations are highlighted at the essay’s conclusion.
Schortman, Edward and Urban, Patricia, "Enacting Power Through Networks" (2012). Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 31(4): 500-514. Faculty Publications. Paper 34.
Journal of Anthropological Archaeology