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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Figurines are ubiquitous during the Early to Middle Formative (1400–500 bc) throughout the Mesoamerican highlands. As materializations of embodiment, figurines represent productions and performances of cultural practices. Two theses are pursued in this chapter: synchronic juxtapositions in figurine style evince strategies and negotiations of social actors, referencing identity, gender, social norms, affiliation, status and rank, and/or ethnicity, while diachronic changes in figurine frequency and style may reflect larger societal processes. Through comparisons of excavated Early and Middle Formative figurine assemblages from two major highland regions, the southern highlands (the Valleys of Oaxaca and Nochixtlán) and the central highlands (the Basin of Mexico, Puebla, and Morelos), as well as brief comparative detours to Olmec-style figurines from the Gulf Coast and Mokaya figurines from Soconusco, the chapter explores entanglements between synchronic aesthetic negotiations and diachronic changes in figurines and socio-political transformations.

Keywords: Early and Middle Formative, Basin of Mexico, Valley of Oaxaca, Nochixtlán Valley, Mokaya, Olmec–style figurines, social identity, embodiment, gender, household ritual

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