Class and Ethnicity in Ancient Mesoamerica

Elizabeth M. Brumfiel and Cynthia Robin

in The Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195390933
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Class and Ethnicity in Ancient Mesoamerica

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  • Archaeology
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  • Race and Ethnicity


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This article discusses notions of class and ethnicity in ancient Mesoamerica. Class differences in Mesoamerica were papered over by the inclusion of individuals of varying social statuses within corporate groups that constituted the basic building blocks of native society. Lockhart (1992) describes these groups as “a series of relatively equal, relatively separate and self-contained constituent parts of the whole.” Subgroups included both the noble houses (teccalli) and commoner groups ( calpulli , or tlaxilacalli ). Ethnicity was another form of identity that cross-cut class lines. It can be defined as social identity based upon the presumption of shared history and common cultural inheritance.

Keywords: Mesoamericans; class difference; ethnicity; social status; social identity

Article.  4908 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology by Region ; Race and Ethnicity

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