Neighborhoods and the Constitution of Authority

Author(s): Jacob Welch; Scott Hutson

Year: 2018


Archaeologists working on the question of integration of neighborhoods within cities or polities often begin by assuming the existence of centralized authority. Next, they move to consider the relationship between neighborhoods and such authorities. Researchers typically see this relationship as one of domination, independence, or something in between. The case of Chunchucmil, a large Maya site located in northwest Yucatan, Mexico, challenges this common approach to neighborhood integration. At Chunchucmil, neighborhoods are clearly defined but centralized authority is not. Thus, we must set aside the question of neighborhoods being weakly or strongly integrated with centralized authority and instead ask how neighborhoods constitute authority itself. In a densely populated, decentralized city, how can neighborhoods be seen as factions whose competition and cooperation produce authority? This paper explores this question while also discussing everyday processes that hold neighborhoods together, cases in which households could switch ties from one neighborhood to another, and the foundations of inequality within neighborhoods and hierarchy between them.

Cite this Record

Neighborhoods and the Constitution of Authority. Jacob Welch, Scott Hutson. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443604)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20058