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  Pots, Parties, and Politics: Communal Feasting in the American Southwest Minimize

James M. Potter

Abstract


Communal feasting is evaluated as a political resource in the northern Southwest from A.D. 850 to present along three axes: scale of participation and finance, frequency and structure of occurrence, and the resources used. Feasting is a recurrent social practice that has consistently facilitated social integration within Southwest communities, but has shown considerable variation through time. Prior to about A.D. 1275 communal feasting appears to have been more of a source of differentiation within communities than it was after this date, when feasting became truly communal and integrative, as it is today within Puebloan communities. At the same time, feasting also became inter-communal in scale and apparently played a role in the ritual differentiation of individual communities within larger clusters. It is suggested that these changes in the role of feasting had little to do with ecological or environmental variables, but instead reflect the pervasive cultural, social, and religious changes that occurred at this time throughout the Southwest.

Resumen

Las cenas comunales han formado parte de las estrategias políticas en el norte de la región Suroeste de Norteamérica desde 850 D.C. hasta el presente. Estas estrategias se pueden medir usando tres ejes: la escala de participación y la labor necesaria para proveer las cenas, la frequencia y forma de los eventos, y los recursos utilizados. Las cenas comunales fueron dadas repetidamente y siempre facilitaron la integración social en las comunidades de la región, pero con gran variación al pasar del tiempo. Antes de 1275 D.C., las cenas comunales sirvieron para definir diferencias internas en las comunidades. Despues de 1275 D.C., tales cenas alimentaron y unieron a la comunidad entera, como occurre con los indios Pueblos modernos. Al mismo tiempo, las cenas comunales se transformaron para integrar múltiples comunidades del área imediata. Estos cambios en las cenas comunales no fueron adaptaciones ecológicas a cambios ambientales, sino reflecciones de los grandes cambios culturales, sociales, y religiosos que ocurrieron por todo el Suroeste de Norteamérica.

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