Dissertation Defense: Ester Echenique


Apr 16 2019 - 1:00pm

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
1:00 p.m.
Saguaro Hall (SAGHA) room 114

Title: Social Integration, Negotiation, and Alliances: Yavi-Chicha Ceramic Production and Circulation in the Border Region of Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile, A. D. 1000-1550

Abstract: This dissertation explores the processes of social-community integration, social negotiation, and alliances as a result of social and political instability during the Regional Developments Period (RDP, ca. A.D. 1000-1450) and the Inka Period (ca. A.D. 1450-1550) of the Circumpuna (the border region of Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile). This research examines patterns of ceramic production, circulation, and consumption of Yavi-Chicha pottery from a multiscalar perspective. Methodologically, this dissertation merges technological styles and provenance (studied through macroscopic, petrographic, and neutron activation analyses) to investigate communities and constellations of practice, and interregional interaction. The dissertation is divided in three articles. The first article examines the role of pottery production practices in processes of social and community integration during the RDP. I explore this relationship through a case study of a community of potters (Chipihuayco) in the Chicha Region. This community-level analysis demonstrates that potters shared fundamental technological choices, which indicates that they were organized under one community of practice. During this period, potters from Chipihuayco and perhaps other potting communities in the Talina Valley developed a ceramic repertoire that was incorporated into new political practices and social strategies of coalescent communities and corporate structures. I argue that the potting community of practice supported the creation of group identity, community affiliation, and integration.

The second article focuses on the regional integration of different communities under new corporate political strategies. I explore these relationships by examining the role of pottery consumption during the RDP. This regional-level analysis, based on the sites of Chipihuayco and Finispatria, shows how shared consumption practices created and articulated a constellation of practice. The kitchen repertoire acquired a fundamental social integrative role as it circulated across the region. The analyses indicate that the marginal community of herders from Finispatria incorporated the entire Yavi-Chicha kitchen assemblage produced in the Talina Valley into its everyday life experience. The kitchen repertoire articulated group identity and social integration as a boundary object, which at the regional scale was expressed as socio-political alliances among different communities. I suggest that the development of a new and distinctive ceramic repertoire in the Chicha Region may have been embedded in new practices of political commensalism that emerged as social strategies within the context of coalescent communities. In the third article, I explore the social effects of trade items by investigating the patterns of circulation of Yavi-Chicha pottery in the Chilean Atacama Desert during the RDP and the Inka Period. In particular, I investigate the role of Yavi-Chicha pottery in social negotiations and alliances between Atacama and the Chicha Region by focusing on the value and meaning of Yavi-Chicha pottery. This emphasis provides a better understanding of the social effects of trade pottery when grounded in its origin, the mechanisms of how it reached Atacama, and the contexts of use. The study demonstrates that pottery used in Atacama (mostly polished jars) was produced in the Talina Valley. Considering the relevance of Yavi-Chicha pottery acquired during the pre-Inka Period in the Chicha Region, I argue that the Yavi-Chicha pottery repertoire functioned as objects of identity formation, or social diacritic, that enabled negotiation and alliances. Moreover, I suggest that social negotiations between the two sub-regions of the Circumpuna were initiated during the RDP and consolidated after the Inka expansion.

Committee: David Killick (co-chair), Frances Hayashida (co-chair), Axel Nielsen, Daniela Triadan, Vance Holliday.

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