Elizabeth M. Brumfiel and Cynthia Robin
This article discusses notions of class and ethnicity in ancient Mesoamerica. Class differences in Mesoamerica were papered over by the inclusion of individuals of varying social statuses within corporate groups that constituted the basic building blocks of native society. Lockhart (1992) describes these groups as “a series of relatively equal, relatively separate and self-contained constituent parts of the whole.” Subgroups included both the noble houses (teccalli) and commoner groups ( calpulli , or tlaxilacalli ). Ethnicity was another form of identity that cross-cut class lines. It can be defined as social identity based upon the presumption of shared history and common cultural inheritance.
James M. Taggert
Ethnicity is the classification of self and others that develops among groups occupying the same region and sometimes competing for the same scarce resources. Scholars of the ancient as well as contemporary Nahuas have found evidence of ethnicity in material artifacts, stone monuments, pictorial manuscripts, prose manuscripts created under the direction of the Spanish friars, Colonial-period wills, notarized documents, court petitions, testimony, parish records, and contemporary ethnographic observations. Implicit or sometimes explicit in their investigations is the question of how Nahua ethnicity changed after the fall of the Aztec Empire in 1521. There is little doubt that the Nahua concepts of ethnicity changed in the centuries following the Spanish Conquest, but there is also considerable evidence that the Nahuas did not adopt and in some cases actively resisted the Spanish concept of ethnicity hinged to race.