Multiethnic Landscapes, Inclusive Identities, and Collective State Building

Author(s): Lane Fargher; Richard Blanton

Year: 2018


In small-scale societies, including territories of failed states and peripheries; regional landscapes are chaotic and rife with interpersonal violence, slaving, and social disorder, etc. Accordingly, organizing for collective defense and the management of common pool resources is vital for the survival of small communities occupying these zones. In such contexts, ethnic identities, constructed around concepts of blood, race, language, or locality, are important for achieving cooperation because they heighten trust that group members are willing to comply with the costs associated with collective action. Members "signal" their ethnicity and, thereby their commitment to costly moral values associated with cooperation by consuming ethnically appropriate material culture, speaking local dialects, and participating in community rituals. However, when such regions shift toward more centralized administration, multiethnic landscapes appear to pose impediments to achieving collective action at larger spatial scales. In such cases, larger more inclusive identifies are hypothesized to be an important ingredient in overcoming inter-community distrust and the unwillingness of individuals with local identities to collectively bare the costs of regional public goods and/or collective defense. In this paper, I consider this supposition using cross-cultural data, as well as the case of the Late pre-Hispanic State of Tlaxcallan, in central Mexico.

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Multiethnic Landscapes, Inclusive Identities, and Collective State Building. Lane Fargher, Richard Blanton. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444532)

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Abstract Id(s): 20381