This volume began with a chance meeting between Liz Brumfiel and John Fox at the World Archaeological Congress, Southampton, in 1986. We recognized our mutual interest in the internal dynamics of political development and our complementary specialties in the prehispanic Aztec and Maya. We also recognized our mutual interest in visiting Amsterdam, the site of the 46th International Congress of Americanists in 1988.
The two of us organized the symposium “Factional Competition and Political Development in the New World” for the 46th International Congress of Americanists. Participants included the two co-editors of this volume, David Anderson, Bruce Byland, Pedro Carrasco, Mary Helms, Stephen Kowalewski, John Pohl, and Rudolf van Zantwijk. Encouraged by the quality of the symposium papers, we decided to edit a volume devoted to exploring factional competition as a force of social transformation in prehispanic New World societies. To increase the breadth of coverage, we solicited additional papers from John Clark and Mike Blake, Terry D'Altroy, Fred Hicks, Mary Pohl, Helen Perlstein Pollard, Elsa Redmond and Chuck Spencer. To our regret, Pedro Carrasco had to drop out of the project; his contribution is sorely missed. Glenn Perusek, a specialist in historical materialist approaches to interest group politics and rational choice theory, generously offered to write an overview of the volume from his perspective in political science. We gratefully accepted his offer.
With the support of the editorial staff at the Cambridge University Press, we completed editing this volume in May 1992.