||The papers in this symposium will explore how movements of people, goods, and symbols participated in relations of power in the Andean, Central Mexican, and lowland Maya regions. We are especially interested in developing an understanding of spheres of circulation at multiple scales of analysis, both within and among households, neighborhoods, communities, and polities. And we are concerned to illuminate the relative fluidity of such spheres, identifying factors that promoted, altered, or blocked circuits of pilgrimage, exchange of symbolically-charged items, or flows of people and resources across boundaries and frontiers.
We suspect that power relations among the Inka, Moche, Aztec, Teotihuacan, and Maya diverged less as a result of political symbols or ideologies of rule and more through innumerable, small discontinuities in the ways that social lives were constituted. Sadly these processes are often obscured simply as a result of terminological convention. It is not uncommon for Andean and Mesoamerican scholars to juxtapose elite with commoner, paramount ruler with local lord, household with state, province with core. While such labels serve as convenient shorthand in the demarcation of power differentials among people and groups, all too often they mask the dynamism of the affiliative practices through which power is enacted.
The goal of this session is to develop more nuanced understandings of the forms of circulation that shaped Andean and Mesoamerican polities. In particular, we hope to train a bright light on how the stuff of power resides in the traffic of everyday life. To this end, and to effect a modicum of comparability across presenters and regions, we ask that participants: 1) engage data and theory in equal measure: 2) make use of multiple (at least two) scales of analysis; and, 3) make a concerted effort to draw connections among circulation, affiliative practice, and power.