Late Postclassic Mesoamerican Trade Networks and Imperial Expansion

Late Postclassic Mesoamerican Trade Networks and Imperial Expansion
Author: Berdan, Frances F.
Almanac: Globalistics and Globalization StudiesGlobalization Studies and Evolutionary Trends

A particularly significant development in Late Postclassic Mesoamerica (1350–1521 CE) was the expansion of the Aztec or Triple Alliance Empire. This hegemonic empire was built upon a foundation of existing city-states and multifaceted trade networks, political and economic realities that conditioned the Aztecs’ imperial strategies. In this setting, several factors contributed to the nature and success of this imperial enterprise: aggressive militarism, diplomatic politics, energetic trading enterprises, strategic elite marriages, and unabashed exploitation. All of these interrelated factors generated networks that yielded a multidimensional expansionist system whereby a new level of borders was imposed on top of already existing city-state boundaries, and old and new trading networks were reinforced and intensified both within and beyond the imperial thrall. This paper examines the dynamic interplay among these several dimensions of commerce and imperial expansion, stressing the fluctuating boundaries and networks that resulted from those interactions.

Frances Berdan, Professor Emerita of Anthropology at California State University San Bernardino more