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The Politics of Production and the Strategies of Everyday Life

edited by Christopher T. Morehart and Kristin De Lucia

Paperback Price $38.95
Ebook Price $30.95
30-day ebook rental price $9.99

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This will be an influential volume for years to come.”
—Elliot Abrams, Ohio University

"The book does what anthropology and archaeology do best, namely to unpack the variability of a term like 'surplus' and to illustrate the very many ways in which and reasons for which a 'surplus' may emerge."

Anthropology Review Database

​"This volume expands our understanding of the environmental context of surplus​ ​production and the institutional processes, relationships, and frameworks through​ ​which it flows. It is theoretically and empirically rich, and a useful reference for​ ​scholars working in any area or time period.​"​

Journal of Anthropological Research

"The well-crafted essays in this collection bring us up to date with archaeological views of surplus. . . . The range of the studies, the technical expertise of the collection, and the ways of spotting surplus in artefacts impressed me."
Anthropological Forum

"This edited volume is a thoroughly researched, broadly appealing exploration into many aspects of surplus. It provides theoretical as well as methodological chapters. It will appeal to archaeologists as much as economists, anthropologists and other social scientists. For anyone with an interesting in economy, politics or society at all, this is a valuable contribution. . . . I therefore recommend this volume to everyone with an interest in the above subjects, and encourage the exploration of the different chapters, regions, methods and theoretical concepts."
—Martin Loeng, Anthropology Book Forum


The concept of surplus captures the politics of production and also conveys the active material means by which people develop the strategies to navigate everyday life. Surplus: The Politics of Production and the Strategies of Everyday Life examines how surpluses affected ancient economies, governments, and households in civilizations across Mesoamerica, the Southwest United States, the Andes, Northern Europe, West Africa, Mesopotamia, and eastern Asia.

A hallmark of archaeological research on sociopolitical complexity, surplus is central to theories of political inequality and institutional finance. This book investigates surplus as a macro-scalar process on which states or other complex political formations depend and considers how past people—differentially positioned based on age, class, gender, ethnicity, role, and goal—produced, modified, and mobilized their social and physical worlds.

Placing the concept of surplus at the forefront of archaeological discussions on production, consumption, power, strategy, and change, this volume reaches beyond conventional ways of thinking about top-down or bottom-up models and offers a comparative framework to examine surplus, generating new questions and methodologies to elucidate the social and political economies of the past.

Contributors: Douglas J. Bolender, James A. Brown, Cathy L. Costin, Kristin De Lucia, Timothy Earle, John E. Kelly, Heather M. L. Miller, Christopher R. Moore, Christopher T. Morehart, Neil L. Norman, Ann B. Stahl, Victor D. Thompson, T. L. Thurston, E. Christian Wells


Christopher T. Morehart is an associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. His research centers on political and historical ecology and ethnobotany.

Kristin De Lucia is assistant professor of anthropology at Colgate University and specializes in household archaeology and the Aztecs. Her research in central Mexico focuses on households and how the daily practices of commoners influence the development of broader political economies and social systems.

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  • Paperback Price: $38.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60732-371-6
  • Ebook Price: $30.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $9.99
  • EISBN: 978-1-60732-380-8
  • Publication Month: October
  • Publication Year: 2015
  • Pages: 304
  • Illustrations: 46
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: edited by Christopher T. Morehart and Kristin De Lucia
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-60732-371-6
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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