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Political Competition among the Chaco Anasazi of the American Southwest
Journal of Anthropological Archaeology (1996)
  • John Kantner
An actor-based model of political competition is proposed to explain the development of Chaco Anasazi groups in the northern American Southwest. This model is derived from neo-Darwinian theory and the associated concept of methodological individualism, and focuses on the transition from societies dominated by egalitarian relationships to those exhibiting increasingly coercive leadership. The model especially emphasizes the role of the physical and social context for structuring individual decision-making and competitive behavior. A brief survey of the ethnographic record from around the world is employed to identify how political competition might appear in the archaeological record, with a specific focus on settlement patterns and architecture. The model is evaluated through an analysis of Chacoan communities found in the southern San Juan Basin of New Mexico, an area that is peripheral to the alleged center of the Chaco Anasazi in Chaco Canyon. Although further research is needed to improve the database and rule out alternative models, the analysis suggests that political competition between aspiring leaders could have contributed significantly to the evolution of at least the peripheral areas of the Chaco Anasazi, resulting in the archaeological patterns seen there today.
  • Chaco Anasazi,
  • American Southwest,
  • Political competition
Publication Date
March, 1996
Citation Information
John Kantner. "Political Competition among the Chaco Anasazi of the American Southwest" Journal of Anthropological Archaeology Vol. 15 Iss. 1 (1996) p. 41 - 105 ISSN: 0278-4165
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