Tribute, Antimarkets, and consumption: An archaeology of capitalist effects in Colonial Guatemala

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

4 Scopus citations


This chapter will draw on archaeological work at San Pedro Aguacatepeque—a colonial Kaqchikel Maya community in the Pacific piedmont of Guatemala—to explore how (and to what effects) Spanish colonial tribute requirements and the demands of the regional and emerging global economy afforded Maya entanglement with processes and practices that have come to be defined as hallmark traits of the modern capitalist world system. I argue that these traits (e.g., market dependence, cash crop production, and wage labor, all of which were present at Aguacatepeque) are problematically and inconsistently used by scholars as diagnostic markers for identifying “true” capitalist contexts. Instead, I consider the presence of such traits, and the unequal power relations that foster their emergence, as the effects of microscale shifts in practice, put in motion by the entanglements of colonial projects, the specificities of local contexts, and emerging global market demands. Drawing on archaeological research, material analyses, and archival research, this chapter provides a case study illustrating the complex assemblage of actors and manifold causal factors that afforded Aguacatepeque’s participation in the capitalist colonial processes of the early modern world, and the subsequent impact this participation had on the material practices (i.e., consumption and production) and subjectivities of the community’s inhabitants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationArchaeology of Culture Contact and Colonialism in Spanish and Portuguese America
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783319080697
ISBN (Print)9783319080680
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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