Childhood and Identity Acquisition in the Late Prehispanic Ónavas Valley, Sonora, Mexico

Cristina García-Moreno, Patricia Olga Hernández Espinoza, James T. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Identity acquisition is a lifelong process that begins prior to birth (passive), becomes more active with self-awareness, and continues throughout the enculturation process. We argue that in childhood, as a liminal period of the life course, individuals are subject to a combination of active and passive forces of identity acquisition, largely determined first by family/parental decisions, then by community decisions as part of the enculturation process. We test this idea by reconstructing episodes of identity acquisition across social age categories in a late prehispanic (AD 900–1300) skeletal sample from the site of El Cementerio from north-west Mexico, which represents the central community of a settlement system in the valley of Ónavas, Sonora, Mexico. Artificial cranial modification, dental modification, and the placement of funerary objects reflect intersecting identities and provide clues to social age and identity acquisition within the community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-54
Number of pages17
JournalChildhood in the Past
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Identity
  • Northwest Mexico
  • childhood
  • cranial modification
  • dental modification
  • mortuary practices
  • social roles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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