Whittaker Schroder

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9355

Approve Date

October 5, 2016

Project Title

Schroder, Whittaker Carl, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Collapse, Crisis, and Resilience: Household Resettlement in the Upper Usumacinta Landscape,' supervised by Dr. Richard Leventhal

Preliminary abstract: Political crisis has traditionally been interpreted as a temporary rupture in a normal state of affairs. However, to some populations crisis is a recurrent or permanent condition, even a historical norm. This dissertation addresses the question of how social actors and communities respond to protracted crises and how certain cultural systems remain resilient in such scenarios. Using archaeological methods from the household to the landscape level, this project examines the effects of crisis on a peripheral community southwest of the Maya kingdom of Piedras Negras from AD 600-900. Though Piedras Negras suffered defeat at the hands of Yaxchilan early in the ninth century, its populations had begun to disperse from the political center as early as the sixth century. This project investigates these processes at a remote hilltop site in the rural hinterlands of Piedras Negras, examining the coalescence and resilience of a peripheral population in response to the collapse in kingship. The guiding hypothesis is that populations relocated to hilltop areas as refuge to evade the crises associated with state collapse, establishing new political hierarchies, developing different expressions of ritual, and gaining access to peripheral trade networks. This project will examine the chronology of the site to determine when people relocated to hilltop areas, which will be supplemented by data from excavations of house platforms to document changes in architecture and material culture. This research will have implications for the application of resilience theory to crisis and collapse, as well as discussions of innovation in rural areas. This project will also add historical context to more recent refugee crises.