Archaeology and Identity on the Pacific Coast and Southern Highlands of Mesoamerica

The Pacific coast and southern highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala is a region significant to debates about the origins of social complexity, interaction, and colonialism. The area, however, has received uneven attention and much of what we know is largely restricted to the Preclassic period. This theoretically eclectic volume presents greater temporal coverage, is geographically unified, and engages some of the most important questions of each period through a discussion of the archaeology of identity.
     Chapters range from traditional assessments of identity to discussion of practice and relational personhood; all share a concern for how archaeology and ethnohistory provide opportunities and challenges in the reconstruction of identities. The region is one with a multifaceted history of interactions between local populations and those from other parts of Mesoamerica. Linguistic diversity, landscape, and artistic representations have added to the complexities of understanding identity formation here. Rather than providing a unified voice on the issues, Archaeology and Identity on the Pacific Coast and Southern Highlands of Mesoamerica is a dialogue presented through case studies, one that will hopefully encourage future research in this complex and little understood region of Mesoamerica. 

Claudia García-Des-Lauriers is assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and director of the Proyecto Arqueológico Los Horcones.

Michael W. Love is professor of anthropology at California State University, Northridge. 

Table of Contents:
List of Figures and Tables
Preface and Acknowledgments
1.Archaeology and Identity on the Pacific Coast and Southern Highlands of Mesoamerica: An Introduction – Claudia García-Des Lauriers and Michael W. Love
2. What a Waste: Identity Construction in the Archaeological Record of Southern Mesoamerica – Hector Neff
3. Urbanization and the Practices of Identity at La Blanca, Guatemala – Michael W. Love 
4. Architecture and Identity at Los Horcones, Chiapas – Claudia García-Des Lauriers
5.A Common Space: Lake Amatitlán and Volcán Pacaya in the Cosmology of Escuintla, Highland Guatemala, and Beyond – Lucia R. Henderson
6. Yearning for the Ancestors: Elite Identity in Cotzumalhuapa Sculpture – Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos
7.Linguistic Patterns, Material Culture, and Identity in Late Postclassic to Postcolonial Soconusco – Janine Gasco
8.  Tojil Cult in Classic Cotzumalhuapa: Origin of Postclassic Confederations on the Pacific Coast – Ruud van Akkeren
9. The Problem of Ethnicity and the Construction of K’iche’an Identity – Geoffrey E. Braswell
10. Constructing Mesoamerican Identities and Subjects – John E. Clark

Praise and Reviews:

“The volume provides new data, analysis, and ideas that will be a welcome addition to the literature. There is currently nothing comparable out there.”
—Robert M. Rosenswig, associate professor of anthropology, University at Albany–SUNY 

“This volume finally brings the discussion of identity within the context of 21st century anthropology with the support of hard evidence resulting from decades of sound scientific research. As such, this book will be a solid starting point for all readers interested in the art, architecture and ethnohistory of the people of southern Mesoamerica.”
—Francisco Estrada-Belli, Tulane University