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Rethinking Anthropological Perspectives on Migration$
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Graciela S. Cabana and Jeffery J. Clark

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813036076

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813036076.001.0001

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Power, Agency, and Identity

Power, Agency, and Identity

Migration and Aftermath in the Mezquital Area of North-Central Mexico

(p.147) 7 Power, Agency, and Identity
Rethinking Anthropological Perspectives on Migration

Christopher S. Beekman

Alexander F. Christensen

University Press of Florida

The study of migration among complex societies, even ancient ones, requires careful consideration of how power relationships impact on migrant identity and its expression through material culture. The vulnerability of migrants or their social persecution can result in a lack of concordance among biological, linguistic, and archaeological datasets by intensifying the use of material culture to express or downplay social difference. This chapter thus uses linguistic and ethnohistoric data at the regional scale to identify a migration by Nahuatl speakers and their subsequent interactions with Otomi speakers in first millennium ad Mesoamerica, and the material culture is then interpreted in light of its role in affirming or obscuring social affiliation. The initial migrants were only briefly visible archaeologically before an accommodation was reached that obscured separate identities at the local level. Nahuatl speakers later achieved a position of prominence in a politically based ethnic hierarchy that lasted several hundred years.

Keywords:   power, identity, migration, complex societies, Mesoamerica, Nahuatl, archaeology, language, ethnohistory

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