Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Domestic Economies and Regional Transition: Household Production and Consumption in Early Postclassic Mexico
by De Lucia, Kristin, Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2011, 360; 3469711
Abstract (Summary)

This research investigates households in the Postclassic regional center of Xaltocan, Mexico, to learn how commoners participated in market exchange in order to better understand the relationship between ordinary people and the development of the broader economy. Specifically, it identifies the relationship between production, consumption, and social organization in Xaltocan’s households. Although models of economic development often focus on prestige-driven economies, it is likely that commoners participated in marketplace exchange in the Basin of Mexico by the Early Postclassic (A.D. 900-1150) period. The three primary objectives to this research were: (1) to identify variability in household commodity production (including food products) in the period leading up to Xaltocan’s ascendancy, (2) to examine the consumption of trade goods in commoner households to understand how and why people participated in market exchange and, (3) to understand household social organization and how it changed through time. Questions that this dissertation attempts to answer include: To what extent did ordinary households participate in regional market exchange and production during the Early Postclassic? Did the exchange of ordinary goods play a significant role in market exchange? What factors drove the consumption of market goods (utilitarian need, social prestige, ritual activity)? Did inequality emerge as households’ market involvement increased? What were the impacts of economic choices on social organization including, gender and age roles? To address these questions this research incorporated multiple lines of evidence including macro- and micro-analyses of living spaces to identify production activities; ceramic analyses to tease apart the meanings of consumer choice by integrating data on stylistic variation, function, and context; and, lastly, analysis of the organization and function household spaces to assess social interaction, meaning, and change. I argue that economic development in Xaltocan depended upon part-time, diversified household production of ordinary goods and commoner demand for both utilitarian and non-utilitarian commodities. I suggest that Xaltocan’s lake environment allowed households to produce subsistence crops for household consumption, while simultaneously providing multiple opportunities for surplus production through the exploitation of lake resources. Ultimately, this research concludes that the household was fundamental to economic and social development in ancient political economies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Brumfiel, Elizabeth M.
Commitee: Earle, Timothy E., Robin, Cynthia
School: Northwestern University
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 72/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology
Keywords: Consumption, Household production, Identity, Market exchange, Mexico
Publication Number: 3469711
ISBN: 9781124860213
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