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Products for grant FA-51733-05

Economic Process in Ancient Maya Societies
Patricia McAnany, Boston University

Grant details:

Ancestral Maya Economies in Archaeological Perspective (Book)
Title: Ancestral Maya Economies in Archaeological Perspective
Author: Patricia A. McAnany
Abstract: This book lifts the shroud that has hung over ancestral Maya economies. Adopting a practice perspective and embracing a materiality approach, McAnany explores the people, practices, and things of an ancestral Maya past that here, once again, becomes vibrant, animate, and rife with social difference and inequality. In a work that draws widely from ethnographic, historical, archaeological, and epigraphic sources, the author assembles evidence to create a narrative of ancestral economies that moves Maya archaeology in a new direction. She foregrounds ritual practice to indicate the role of deity indebtedness in ecological practice; emphasizes gender-segregated learning spheres in creating the socially built environment of home, hearth, altar, and field; and approaches the construction of colossal architecture as a kind of inalienable property. Introducing the concept of social speciation, the author dissects the materiality of royalty in order to highlight the diacritics of economic difference in Classic Maya society. Archaeological approaches to crafting and specialized production are critically examined from an historical perspective and the pervasive presence of age-specific and gendered crafting is demonstrated on a craft-by-craft basis. Controversy over the role of marketplace exchange in ancestral Maya society is reviewed in light of putative tension between Classic Maya rulers and merchants and a political economy dominated by tribute transfers linked to martial aggression is shown to have included tribute ransom. The sophistication, complexity, and vulnerability of ancestral Maya economies are demonstrated in the pages of this book in a comprehensive and convincing manner.
Year: 2010
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Patricia McAnany presents the first comprehensive view of ancestral Maya economic practice. Bringing an archaeological approach to the topic, she demonstrates the vital role of ritual practice in indigenous ecologies, gendered labor, and the construction of colossal architecture. Examining Maya royalty as a kind of social speciation, McAnany also shows the fundamentality of social difference as well as the pervasiveness of artisan production and marketplaces in ancestral Maya societies. Her analysis of royal iconography and hieroglyphic texts provides evidence of a political economy dominated by tribute extraction. Written in an engaging and accessible style, this book situates Maya economies within contemporary social, political, and economic theories of social practice, gender, actor-networks, inalienable goods, materiality, social difference, indigenous ecologies, and strategies of state finance.
Access Model: print and electronic (for libraries)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780521895187