About the Author Dr. Blanton is a professor of Anthropology at Purdue University. He is known for his research on the evolution of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican civilization, especially in Central Mexico and the Valley of Oaxaca but has also contributed to several more general anthropological topics, including the economics of peasant households and household archaeology, the evolution of market systems in early civilizations, pre-modern world-systems, and cultural ecology.
Blanton's recent theoretical and comparative research on the nature of early state formation and political economy is regarded as a new departure that is making a contribution to the current discourse on the evolution of complex human societies. He is a founding member of the Society for Economic Archaeology and has served as its president. Average Review.
Write a Review. It has generally been thought that Wendat households were discrete economic units in which related women formed corporate work-groups. Vestibules at the ends of longhouses suggest that storage took place at the household level.
However, the scheduling and pooling of simultaneous productive labor e. As such, analysis at the single household level is of limited value for most of the questions we might ask about power and production in Wendat society.
Most definitions of community are informed by the phenomena that we seek to understand. In Iroquoian archaeology, the community is generally defined in socio-spatial terms e. My conceptualization of Iroquoian communities sees them as both flexible residential loci and fields for the negotiation of social identity and collective memory Isbell, ; Pauketat, Such an active definition injects agency and intentionality into community membership, permits the recognition of cooperating and competing interests, and helps to explain change over time, including within the occupational histories of individual settlements.
Contemporary approaches to political organization eschew overly simple evolutionary frameworks of socio-political organization, embracing the multidimensional nature of power and authority in middle-range societies e. Conceptual frameworks informed by collective action e. Ethnohistorically, representatives of each clan segment within a community were responsible for civil functions and external affairs.
Ethnohistoric accounts name leaders with exceptional influence who represented their nations and, in at least one instance, the confederacy as a whole in their relations with foreigners Trigger, For the Wendat, power was gained by consensus-building, rather than structural or wealth-based inequality. Some individuals who attained leadership positions possessed characteristics which met the requirements of the position or the community at particular moments in time. Certain chieftainships were also inherited, and the names, duties, and embodiment of key traits passed down within specific lineages Thwaites, , ; Tooker, While Trigger promoted the egalitarian ideals of Wendat society, he recognized that institutionalized and informal inequalities were also present, with Wendat chiefs and their families constituting an "economically and politically privileged group" Senior women of the clan selected and unseated leaders.
Women also arranged marriages, binding clans, households and communities together to particular ends. Discussions of Iroquoian political systems have predominantly focused on a top-down approach to classification and structure. My approach is decidedly bottom-up, focusing on how settlement aggregation, social integration, and changes in the production and consumption of the necessities of life, led to the development of new forms of organization and leadership in one Iroquoian community.
Heterogeneous ceramic assemblages suggest that aggregated villages also included people from farther afield e. Aggregated settlements contain abundant evidence for conflict, including defensive palisades, butchered human remains in middens, and burials exhibiting violent trauma Engelbrecht, ; Williamson, The extension of palisades suggests that aggregation occurred rapidly, within the average 15 to year lifespan of settlements.
The creation of large social aggregates generated significant organizational challenges for managing, ordering, and integrating populations Birch, Williamson, b. Figure 2 - Selected site plans, ca. AD Formative coalescent sites: d Draper Finlayson, ; e Keffer Finlayson et al.
Relations of power and production in ancestral wendat communities
Of these, Draper and Mantle have been completely excavated and provide insights into how these communities were transformed during the process of coalescence. Figure 3 - West Duffins Creek site relocation sequence. Each of these longhouse groups retained a distinct spatiality, and likely a distinct identity within the village aggregate Birch, ; Birch, Williamson, ab. Historical documents indicate that the longest houses in a settlement belonged to community leaders and served as venues for council meetings and other gatherings Trigger, At the same time, while each longhouse cluster may have remained relatively autonomous, more formal means of social and political organization would have been required.
Figure 4 - Draper and Mantle site plans. In pre-coalescent communities these functions were most likely managed by lineages or households MacDonald, ; Warrick, At Draper, a village council would have been required to coordinate decision-making and resolve disputes between community segments.
It has only been subject to surface collection and limited excavations which revealed portions of five longhouses and a multi-row palisade. While the ceramic assemblage is consistent with its temporal and spatial occupation intermediately between Draper and Mantle, ca. AD , little is known about the spatial configuration of the settlement. While the Mantle community plan exhibits a more cohesive layout than Draper, the settlement had a dynamic occupational history.
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Collective Action in the Formation of Pre-Modern States / Edition 1
Click on an option below to access. Log out of ReadCube. Unlike earlier approaches to these issues, which used models designated voluntaristic or managerial, contemporary research articulates more explicitly with frameworks for cooperation and collective action used in other fields, thereby facilitating empirical testing through better definition of the costs, benefits, and social mechanisms associated with success or failure in coordinated group action. Current scholarship is nevertheless bifurcated along lines of epistemology and scale, which is understandable but problematic for forging a broader, more transdisciplinary field of cooperation studies.
Drawing on archeological cases from across the globe, with greater detail from our area of expertise in Mesoamerica, we offer suggestions for strengthening analytical methods and generating more transdisciplinary research programs that address human societies across scalar and temporal spectra. Volume 25 , Issue 6. The full text of this article hosted at iucr. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account.
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