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A Child's House: Social Memory, Identity, and the Construction of Childhood in Early Postclassic Mexican Households



ABSTRACT  Despite the recent attention given to the archaeology of childhood, households continue to be treated by archaeologists as the product of adult behavior and activities. Yet children shaped the decisions and motivations of adults and influenced the structure and organization of daily activities and household space. Further, children's material culture serves to both create and disrupt social norms and daily life, making children essential to understanding broader mechanisms of change and continuity. Thus, archaeologists should reconceptualize houses as places of children. This research brings together multiple lines of evidence from the Early Postclassic site of Xaltocan, Mexico, including ethnohistory, burials, and figurines to reconstruct the social roles and identities of children and to problematize our understanding of households. I argue that thinking of houses as places of children enables us to see that children were essential to daily practice, the construction and transmission of social identity, and household economic success.