Us vs Them: Identity Formation in Pre-Hispanic Tlaxcala

Author(s): Brian Witt; Nadia Johnson

Year: 2015


Tlaxcala occupies a unique position in the history of New Spain, due both to its alliance with Cortés against the Aztec and to its mid-16th century flourishing as a model republica de Indios. Spanish and indigenous chroniclers throughout the colonial period spoke of the tlaxcaltequidad—the strong regional identity and patriotism that characterized the state. We believe that this is not merely the product of Spanish favoritism and elite opportunism post-Conquest, but rather, the development of a robust Tlaxcaltecan identity occurred over the course of their long and successful resistance to Aztec domination. Drawing from political psychology and group dynamics, we hope to showcase how the Tlaxcaltecan elite used the omnipresent threat of the Aztec "Other" to create a form of inclusive civic nationalism, focused on military success, that overcame linguistic and class barriers and allowed the small Tlaxcaltecan state to survive decades of warfare against a much more powerful foe. We also present comparative examples from other political entities – contemporaneous and modern – which experienced similar processes of identity formation.

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Us vs Them: Identity Formation in Pre-Hispanic Tlaxcala. Brian Witt, Nadia Johnson. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398143)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;