We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

Ethnicity and social class in Mesoamerica

Solares, Jorge (1983) Ethnicity and social class in Mesoamerica. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis is a theoretical discussion of ethnicity and social class in Mesoamerica, which seemed both necessary and desirable because of the uncertainty prevailing on the subject. Its overall aim is to clarify the present state of theory on ethnicity, class and their articulation. In order to accomplish this I analyse and compare contrasting social anthropological tendencies. First, those which interpret the social characteristics of the region by emphasising ethnicity (culturally interpreted) at the local level and while disregarding the structural framework of the class at the wider level; second, those which in contrast, stress the role of the wider class structure while neglecting ethnic relationships at the local level; and third, those which combine both dimensions, interpreting local, ethnic phenomena within the framework of class. The main advantages and disadvantages of these approaches are discussed in order to determine which of them offers the most satisfactory view of the importance and articulation of ethnicity and class in Mesoamerica, a subject which is fundamental to a proper understanding of the current social and political instability of the region. The thesis is in three parts. The first provides the historical antecedents of the central theme. Here I describe the concept of Mesoamerica and give an account of prehispanic social development, criticising some of the theories which try to explain the basic social features of ancient Mesoamerican societies. The analysis then focuses on the changes brought about by Spanish rule, on the emergence of ethnic groups and on the ethnic and class characteristics of popular reaction against Spanish domination. The subsequent Independence period is discussed and the principal socioeconomic and political changes accompanying capitalist expansion are documented. Special attention is paid to the class and ethnic character of popular responses to the new social order in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Following the historical background, the other two parts analyse theories dealing with the relationship between ethnicity and class. Part Two examines two 'simple' and antagonistic interpretations, the "ethnic/cultural/local-level" and the "class/structural/wider-level" approaches. Part Three is devoted to more complex perspectives which attempt to combine both approaches. This has resulted in two different models: that which postulates, and that which opposes, the correspondence of ethnic and socioeconomic boundaries. Through the critical analysis developed in Parts Two and Three and synthesised in the general conclusions, I suggest how a more adequate theoretical approach to this complex subject might be formulated.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1983
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 May 2013 14:14

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter