Situating Power and Locating Knowledge: A Paleoethnobotanical Perspective on Late Classic Maya Gender and Social Relations



Viewing household production in terms of a political economic balance of “give and take” circumvents difficulties related to gender attribution in archaeology and challenges timeless gender stereotypes. This chapter proposes such an archaeological approach to gender by examining the charcoal assemblages from two Late Classic period Maya archaeological sites in the upper Belize Valley of western Belize. These sites occupied distinct positions within a complex political economic landscape, and their charcoal assemblages reflect heterogeneity in household production. The type and the intensity of activities, including wood procurement and craft production, were socially contingent. We propose that household activities and forms of knowledge were conditioned by the positions of households within broader political economic landscapes, not conforming to the timeless social stereotypes imposed by archaeologists.