Assemblages of Production: Capitalist Colonial Labor Regimes and other Productive Practices in Highland Guatemala

Guido Pezzarossi, J. Ryan Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The consequences of Spanish colonial/capitalist intrusions in highland Guatemala are an emerging focus of archaeological investigation. While providing insight into the entanglements between colonialism and capitalism and their effects on Maya communities, it is critical not to fixate only on extractive and exploitative labor regimes to the exclusion of other patterns of practice and production central to the experience of people in the past. In our analyses, a singular focus on capitalist colonialism reifies the suffocating ubiquity of abstract processes, foreclosing the possibility of other ways of being in the world that were not capitalist, colonial, or formed in relation or opposition to them. Instead, a holistic approach to the assemblage of production practices in capitalist colonial contexts allows for analyses of “capitalist” practices that exist side side-by-side and/or articulated with other practices—traditional and innovative—outside the unproductive two-step of either resistance to or engagement with capitalism or colonialism. In this article we use archival and archaeological research on colonial Maya sites in the piedmont and highland regions of Guatemala to piece together the spectrum of economic and productive practices carried out by colonial Maya communities: some coerced, some opportunistic of the emerging colonial economic landscape, and others having little to do with the intrusions of capitalist/colonial practices and effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-673
Number of pages21
JournalHistorical archaeology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Guatemala
  • assemblage theory
  • capitalism
  • colonialism
  • consumption
  • labor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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