Although they have petty captains, they obey them badly: the dialectics of Prehispanic western pueblo social organization

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Date: Apr. 1996
From: American Antiquity(Vol. 61, Issue 2)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Document Type: Article
Length: 13,017 words

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Abstract :

Southwestern archaeologists have debated the nature of late Prehispanic western pueblo social organization for nearly a century. Were the fourteenth-century pueblos egalitarian or hierarchical? This issue remains unsettled largely because of the oppositional thinking that has informed most contributions to the debate: that is, the tendency to frame questions about Prehispanic sociopolitical organization in dichotomous "either-or" terms. We critique this approach to the problem and examine one of the most prominent controversies about Prehispanic social organization: the Grasshopper Pueblo-Chavez Pass controversy. We propose an alternative approach rooted in a dialectical epistemology, and a theory of social life that emphasizes the lived experience of people. What impresses us most about late Prehispanic western social organization is not that it was egalitarian or hierarchical, but that it was both. We discuss how this basic contradiction between communal life and hierarchy was a major internal motor driving change in these pueblos.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A18668378