Office of Research, UC Riverside
Travis Stanton
Associate Professor
Anthropology
tstanton@ucr.edu
(951) 827-4366


The Role of Social and Spatial Network Structure in Patterning Social Organization

AWARD NUMBER
008253-002
FUND NUMBER
33259
STATUS
Active
AWARD TYPE
3-Grant
AWARD EXECUTION DATE
6/13/2016
BEGIN DATE
9/1/2016
END DATE
1/31/2019
AWARD AMOUNT
$367,240

Sponsor Information

SPONSOR AWARD NUMBER
1623603
SPONSOR
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
SPONSOR TYPE
Federal
FUNCTION
Organized Research
PROGRAM NAME

Proposal Information

PROPOSAL NUMBER
16060654
PROPOSAL TYPE
New
ACTIVITY TYPE
Applied Research

PI Information

PI
Stanton, Travis
PI TITLE
Other
PI DEPTARTMENT
Anthropology
PI COLLEGE/SCHOOL
Coll of Hum, Arts & Social Sci
CO PIs

Project Information

ABSTRACT

The mechanisms that help societies coalesce into functioning units, can also unravel during times of stress. Such mechanisms take a variety of forms, but are always grounded in social interactions. Forms of integration can be largely economic, political, ritual, or combine aspects of each of these social realms. Places and infrastructure created to increase or house social interactions, such as plazas, roadways, or markets can be highly informative about the choices people make to develop, maintain, or dissolve a sense of community. In urban contexts in particular, these sorts of features are key components of integrating a rural population into the urban setting. Commonalities in household goods and arrangements are another excellent measure of social integration, as households evolve in response to broader social adjustments. Within this context the current project will investigate the apparent fragility of Classic Maya sociopolitical phenomenon and the weaknesses of their ancient states. By examining the structure, degree, and kind of social interactions among members of several very different communities that appear to have participated in the same Late Classic state, this research will analyze how households articulated with the social, political, religious, and ideological strategies utilized by the elite. These ancient communities are located along the longest ancient Maya road, a major piece of infrastructure that connected two urban centers and their rural territories. Although past Mayan society constitutes the focus of this research the underlying principles which it proposes to illuminate are relevant in many developing regions of the world today. Failed states which constitute significant international problems today result from the lack of sufficiently strong integrating mechanisms. Archaeology permits researchers to examine such issues through a long term perspective. Local stakeholders who live and farm along this road today will benefit from learning the details of not only how the road and other ancient infrastructure was built, but through a series of workshops, lectures, and collaborative research projects, these communities will have their first exposure to the methods of scientific investigation.

Social interactions that form bonds between people who live in separate cities or regions are a particularly important tool to understand why humans choose to willingly participate in systems of hierarchy with its corollary, oppression. Urban centers are in constant need of new members and draw rural populations into urban settlements forcibly, but also through providing infrastructure and the means for new social interactions. The creation of a massive roadway in the northern Maya lowlands integrated the communities at either end of the road and the rural populations along its length during the Late Classic, but how did daily life change? Were different materials available to local household groups after the completion of the road? Were residential habits altered? Is there evidence for the movement of populations? These questions will be addressed by excavation of households at both cities connected by the road, and at one rural settlement along its length, from periods prior to the construction of the road, and after. By identifying changes in domestic artifacts, trade goods, and burial patterns, the degree of integration achieved by the road project can be measured.
(Abstract from NSF)