chapter  3
21 Pages

Structuring Debate and Debating Structure: A Mesoamerican Perspective on Prehistoric Social Organization in the American Southwest

WithGary M. Feinman

This chapter reviews the development of anthropological ideas about the pre-Hispanic Peoples of the American Southwest and Mesoamerica. In both Mesoamerica and the American Southwest, archaeological knowledge and exploration long predated the formal foundations of the discipline of anthropological archaeology. In contrast with the Euro-American travellers to Mesoamerica, early nineteenth century explorers to the Southwest assigned little complexity to the living Indians or their direct ancestors. several archaeologists have claimed that they have achieved similar interpretive conclusions about the Puebloan past, although bypassing ethnographic analogy, through a primarily inductive approach to the archaeological record. While the critical importance of ethnographic information is recognized for the generation of archaeologically relevant hypotheses, aspects of plain cultural continuity should not be presumed to imply complete societal and organizational stasis, particularly when the larger social and/or environmental context has undergone significant transformation.