Polities, territory and historical change in Postclassic Matlatzinco (Toluca Valley, central Mexico)

Brian M. Tomaszewski, Michael Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Historical interpretation of political dynamics in pre-conquest central Mexico from indigenous records is fraught with difficulties. Beyond the basic challenges involved in interpreting fragmentary evidence is the fact that the majority of evidence comes from the dominant imperial polity (Tenochtitlan) and paints a biased and overly generalized view of political and social dynamics in provincial areas. We present a reconstruction of the political geography of the Toluca Valley of central Mexico in Aztec times that avoids these biases by focusing not on the events described in native histories, but on the individual towns and their spatial locations. We find that a theoretical perspective that defines political entities by networks and relations among people more adequately captures the historical situation than traditional models that define polities based on territory and boundaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-39
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Ancient States
  • Borders
  • Mexico
  • Political process
  • Polities
  • Toluca Valley

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Archaeology


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