Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Award: The Interaction between Violence and Perception of Social Difference

Project: Research project

Project Details


The proposed project examines identity-based violenceviolence directed at individuals or groups
perceived as divergentin the past. It considers how diverse categorical social identities contributed to
the selection of victims of ritual violence during periods of socio-political upheaval. Under the
supervision of Principal Investigator Jane Buikstra, Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) Sofa Pacheco-
Fors will examine the skeletal remains from a sacrificial deposit at an Epiclassic shrine site located in the
marshes of Lake Xaltocan in central Mexico. The Epiclassic period (600-900 CE) was a time of dramatic
political, social, and demographic reorganization in the Basin of Mexico, characterized by increased
migration and violence. In such a volatile socio-political landscape, individuals social identities may
have acted as powerful indicators of social difference. This research will answer the question: How did
specific aspects of individuals social identities, including geographic origin and biological kinship,
predispose them to suffer ritual violence?
The research objectives are to: (1) reconstruct the residential histories of a sample of the
sacrificial victims (n=73) using biogeochemical analyses, and (2a) assess whether all excavated sacrificed
individuals (n=173) represented a single kin-group that was (2b) biologically continuous with pre-extant
populations in the Basin of Mexico using biodistance analyses. Individual paleomobility patterns will be
estimated using two isotopic systems (strontium and oxygen) and skeletal elements forming at different
times. Patterns of biological kinship will be estimated using skeletal and dental phenotypic proxies for
genetic relatedness.
Effective start/end date8/1/177/31/19


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $31,198.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.