Power and Identity in Archaeological Theory and Practice

Case Studies from Ancient Mesoamerica

The contributions to this volume represent a diverse array of Mesoamerican archaeological studies that are all theo-retically rooted to larger, global debates concerning issues of power and identity—two logically paired concepts. While social identity has been the focus of more critical analysis in recent years, the concept of power has received far less attention. Most studies focus on large-scale, institutional forms of power and the ruling body. Here, the focus is on relations of power, addressing broader segments of society outside the dominant group, that often are ignored in traditional reconstructions of past societies.

Harrison-Buck has compiled works that address a common criticism of social theory in the field of anthropological archaeology—the lack of strong case studies and corroborating facts supporting the abstract and often complex social theoretical concepts presented by scholars. Each contributor offers innovative method and theory and provides alternative and varied approaches to understanding power and identity in the archaeological record. They draw from a wide range of related disciplines and theoretical frameworks, including feminism, queer theory, cognitive studies, and postcolonial theory. The provocative case studies and exciting theoretical applications presented here will stimulate lively debate among scholars working both in and outside of Mesoamerica.

Eleanor Harrison-Buck is an assistant professor of archaeology at the University of New Hampshire.

Praise and Reviews:

“Makes an effective contribution to theory and practice in Mesoamerican studies. By coupling the study of power and identity, Harrison-Buck opens up a new avenue for research on power, an age-old question in archaeology.”—Cynthia Robin, Northwestern University