EMAP (2008) Social Transformation and Its Human Costs in the Prehispanic Southwest


Change is inevitable, but some changes and transformations are more dramatic and fraught with suffering than others.

Resilience theory suggests the concept of a “rigidity trap” as an explanation for these differences. In rigidity traps, a high degree of

connectivity and the suppression of innovation prolong an increasingly rigid state, with the result that the eventual transformation

is harsh. Three archaeological cases from the U.S. Southwest (Mimbres, Mesa Verde, and Hohokam) and new methods for assessing

transformations and rigidity are used to evaluate this concept. They reveal the expected association between the severity of transformation

and degree of rigidity, suggesting that a rigidity trap contributed to the Hohokam decline, which included significant human

suffering. Possible causes of rigidity, with implications for today’s world, are explored. [Keywords: U.S. Southwest, archaeology, social

transformation, resilience theory, ecological theory]

Cite this Record

EMAP (2008) Social Transformation and Its Human Costs in the Prehispanic Southwest. Michelle Hegmon, Matthew Peeples, Ann P. Kinzig, Stephanie Kulow, Cathryn Meegan, Margaret Nelson. American Anthropologist. 110 (3): 313-324. 2008 ( tDAR id: 391377) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8CR5V72

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.428; min lat: 32.927 ; max long: -107.356; max lat: 32.982 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Michelle Hegmon; Margaret C. Nelson

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