“Beyond” the Grid of Labor Control: Salvaged, Persisting, and Leaky Assemblages in Colonial Guatemala

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1 Scopus citations


Spanish colonial incursions into highland Guatemala encountered a vibrant assemblage of entangled people, places, plants, and things. Colonists sought to marshall this assemblage into various accumulation projects through strategies of colonial control that re-ordered the landscape and its settlements, enabling new forms of surveillance, tracking, subject making, and exploitation of Native communities and laborers. This “grid” of control proved effective in many regards, particularly due to the preservation of the extant assemblage of infrastructure, social relations, and relations of production encountered. Rather than fully disrupt it, colonists accommodated this assemblage and sought to salvage value from its persistence. However, an ambivalence emerged from this dependence on the refracted assemblage of highland Guatemala; an assemblage that remained outside of colonists full control and made the colonial grid a thoroughly leaky one as people and things became or remained entangled in ways that subverted the goals of colonial control and afforded the persistence of Native communities and relations through, between and beyond the violence of colonization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)920-949
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Historical Archaeology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Cacao
  • Colonialism
  • GIS
  • Guatemala
  • Labor
  • Spatial control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • History
  • Archaeology


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