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Leadership and Community Identity at Postclassic Xaltocan, Mexico

  • Author(s): Farah, Kirby Elizabeth;
  • Advisor(s): Ashmore, Wendy;
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

This dissertation uses archaeological evidence to address the ways that local leaders at Postclassic (A.D. 900-1521) Xaltocan, Mexico negotiated their complex social and political roles over time. Archaeological investigations were conducted at a large mound near the center of modern day Xaltocan (Cerrito Central), and focused on the strategies used by Xaltocan’s leaders to assert authority at the local and regional levels, while also engaging in shared practices to grow solidarity within their home community. Drawing on practice theory and theories of identity, this research used the household as a lens, which facilitated a more nuanced study of the everyday practices of Xaltocan’s leaders, and created datasets that were comparable to existing datasets from commoner contexts at Xaltocan. As a result, the archaeological remains recovered from Cerrito Central were easily compared to and contextualized by site-wide data. These intra-community comparisons indicated that Xaltocan’s leaders engaged in many of same domestic practices as commoners, but also maintained unique practices and symbol systems that distinguished them from commoners. In particular, Xaltocan’s leaders produced, expressed and maintained their authority through monumental construction programs and ritual activities. Together, these data suggest that although Xaltocan’s leaders were powerful members of society, their status was also dependent on local support. Accordingly, they established their legitimacy using public ritual and place-making practices, which generated shared memories and transformed their houses into socially meaningful places.

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