Paul Graf
© Paul Graf

Paul Graf, M. A.

University of Bonn
Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
Research Associate in Research Area B Embodied Dependencies2
Niebuhrstraße 5
D-53113 Bonn
Phone: +49 / (0)228 / 73 62449


Asymmetrical Dependency in the Context of Resource Control and its Impact on the Social System in Premodern Tropical Societies: The Case of the Southern Maya Lowlands

Premodern societies in tropical environments lived under extreme conditions that affected their subsistence strategies and their social structure. In Classic Maya society in the southern lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula, this contributed to the creation of strong power imbalances between different social groups. But how did these relationships manifest themselves in asymmetrical dependencies? In this thesis, essential resources are considered as bodies of dependency or commodified fetishes that influenced settlement patterns, the social system and the political economy. To examine these resource-driven mechanisms, I propose two concepts or theories of asymmetrical dependency: Resource-based dependency refers to unbalanced power relations based on the control of essential resources; Concealed dependency looks from a neo-Marxist perspective and assumes an integrated community based on moral codes and religious symbols that conceal unbalanced power relations as necessities. I use a multidisciplinary methodology with different approaches from environmental archaeology, geodigital archaeology, ethnoarchaeology and ethnohistory. Archaeological fieldwork is conducted at Tzikin Tzakan and Tamarindito in the Petén region of Guatemala. Remote-sensing and ground-truthing techniques are used to create a representative archaeological sample of resource zones, transport routes and residential areas, in order to draw their spatial connection by GIS analyses and to get a strong basis for reconstructing premodern social differences and asymmetrical dependency relations.


  • 2013–2016                 B.A. Ancient American Studies and Ethnology, University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2016–2019                 M.A. in Anthropology of the Americas, University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2018                             Field Research Abroad, Petén, Guatemala
  • since 2019                  Doctoral Student in Anthropology of the Americas, University of Bonn

Academic Positions

  • 2017–2019                 Student Assistant in the International Research Project "The Theologia Indorum:  A Critical Translation of Friar Domingo de Vico's Theology for and of the Maya"
                                           University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2019                             Student Assistant for IT, Department of Anthropology of the Americas, University of Bonn, Germany
  • since 2019                  Research Associate at Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies

Participation in Centers, Scientific Associations, Collaborative Projects

  • 2019                             Organizational Committee of the International Conference "Future Today / Yesterday / Tomorrow: Visions of Future(s) in the Americas"
  • 2019–present             Member of the Editorial Committee of the Journal "The Mexicon: The Journal of Mesoamerican Studies"

Conference Presentations:

  • 2019                         Future today / yesterday / tomorrow: Visiones of Future(s) in the Americas, Bonn
  • 2019                         XI Congreso Internacional de Mayistas, Chetumal, Mexico
  • 2019                         XXXIII Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, C. d. Guatemala, Guatemala

Recent Publications

  • The Impact of Forest Exploitation on the Vernacular House in Urban Spaces of the Classic Maya: A Geo-ethnobotanical Approach in Central-eastern Petén, Guatemala. In: British Archaeological Reports, paper submitted, 2019.
  • Modelado digital GIS para la investigación etnoarqueológica de la distribución espacial de los recursos forestales en las ciudades mayas precolombinas del centro-este de Petén. In: B. Arroyo, L. Méndez Salinas y L. Paiz (eds.): XXXIII Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2019. Guatemala: Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, pp. 379–391.
  • Evaluación multiperspectiva de las palmas de Sabal y otras plantas posiblemente utilizadas como material de techado por los antiguos mayas en las tierras bajas centrales. Estudios de Cultura Maya 59, paper accepted, forthcoming 2022.
Wird geladen