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GANDARA VAZQUEZ, Manuel. ¿La teoría más refutada del mundo?. Cuicuilco [online]. 2009, vol.16, n.47, pp.147-175. ISSN 0185-1659.

Sanders, Parsons and Santley [1979] introduced a theory of State origins that attempted to explain the rise of the teotihuacan state in the basin of Mexico. This was the product of more than 15 years of fieldwork, which were the testing ground not only for the theory, but also for field (survey) techniques. The book was initially acknowledged as a major contribution, except for one particular review that turned to be very influential: that of Richard Blanton, who had been part of Sander's research team but had a different view of the role of population pressure. Since in their theory Sanders and his assitants had incorporated elements of previous theories (including Carneiro, Wittfogel and others), theories which scholars in the University of Michigan claimed they had refuted, the initial enthusiasm for the book soon gave way to a guarded skepticism and later, to the idea that the theory was "the most refuted theory of the world". This essay presents, in a personal tone, the story of how I met Sanders, became his friend and was aware of the theory and its later criticism; and how and why I decided, more than 25 years ago, to dedicate a good portion of my academic work to show that, not only the theory was not refuted at all, but it might have been the best contender at the time (1981-1982). In order to accomplish that, it was first necessary to develop a procedure of theoretical analysis that would allow for a more careful consideration of any archaeological theory and the grounds on which it could be said to be refuted or corroborated. This quest became a personal obsession that, I hope, will end with my doctoral dissertation [2008] in which the procedure is explained in detail and applied to the theory, and with this paper, which relates this obsession to the deep appreciation I always had of Sanders.

Palavras-chave : W. T. Sanders; State origins; basin of Mexico; theory evaluation; refutation.

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