Title

Complicating the Local: Defining the Aymara at Tiwanaku, Bolivia

Publication Date

6-2013

Journal

International Journal of Historical Archaeology

Volume

17

Issue

2

First Page

315

Last Page

331

Abstract

The archaeological site of Tiwanaku, Bolivia, is commonly held to be the "Spiritual Capital of the Aymara People." But negotiating who qualifies as Aymara, and in what contexts, is decidedly more complicated. Local political divisions between residents of the village of Tiahuanacu (who are seen locally as less-Aymara but not as not-Aymara) and residents of the surrounding rural communities (who are considered to be unquestionably Aymara) structure discussions about who has the right to earn income at the Tiwanaku archaeological site, who manages major public events, and who is responsible for the site's maintenance and security. The situation is complicated further by national-level events such as the Winter Solstice, where urban Aymara travel to Tiwanaku to seek their roots, and Bolivian Presidents and politicians come to participate in national Aymara "culture." I focus on the intervencin ("Intervention") that took place in Tiahuanacu in August 2000, which resulted in the transfer of management of the Tiwanaku archaeological site from the Bolivian state to local municipal and indigenous authorities. Heritage researchers should take such local divisions into account, rather than assuming that "locals" are politically unified or easily delineated by geographical boundaries.

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