ASA14: Anthropology and Enlightenment

(P18)

The anthropology of connections: ethnography, archive and language in the work of Professor Tristan Platt

Location Appleton Tower, Lecture Theatre 1
Date and Start Time 20 June, 2014 at 09:00

Convenors

Christos Lynteris (University of Cambridge) email
Sabine Hyland (University of St. Andrews) email
Mail All Convenors

Summary

In relation to Tristan Platt's work, the panel explores critical connections between history and anthropology in the examination of metallurgy/mining, ritual and material Andes-lowlands relations, the interplay of oral/graphic technologies and the ethnohistory of tribute, citizenship and the state. The panel languages will be Spanish and English.

Long Abstract

Tristan Platt's work approaches Anthropology and History through the prism of the Andes, Bolivia and connected histories. Between the archive and the field, it takes theoretical cues from the historical processes, everyday activities and political predicaments of his ethnographic subjects. Understanding their testimonies involves the contextualization and close interpretation of oral and graphic traces and technologies. These reveal people in relationships, mediating state and colonial practices, and the persistence and emergence of changing societies at the subaltern margins of the world economy under the ambivalent signs of protection, caring, extirpation and "freedom".

Questions of alterity, mestizaje, negotiation and exploitation frame modern and ancient Andean subjects whose regional roots are more concealed than the external pressures and opportunities. But the exploration of Amerindian forms of knowledge and communication also involves the recognition of connected historical processes unfolding in other continents. These are revealed through the transhistorical clash and negotiation of technologies, political theories, artistic practices and religious beliefs.

Platt's studies of these issues imply a merging of theory and practice and have raised debate in and beyond the Andes.

The panel languages will be Spanish and English.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

"Ply Direction and Markedness in a 19th Century Khipu from Bolivia"

Author: Sabine Hyland (University of St. Andrews)  email

Summary

This presentation will analyze newly discovered data about a herder's khipu from Cutusuma, Bolivia, collected by Max Uhle in 1895.

Long Abstract

One of Tristan's Platt seminal articles analyzed the variable readings of a 16th century "chinu" or knotted cord record from the Charcas region of the Andes. In homage to Platt's pathbreaking work on knotted cord records from the Aymara speaking regions, this presentation will discuss newly discovered data about a khipu from Cutusuma, Bolivia, collected by Max Uhle in 1895. Previously unknown testimony from the Aymara speaking khipu maker recovered from Uhle's unpublished field notes, combined with the analysis of the actual khipu, reveals new information about how meaning was signified on khipus. Specifically, this new data provides the first direct evidence that ply direction was a signifying element on khipus. Moreover, the evidence suggests that ply direction signified through a principle of markedness in which S ply corresponded to the unmarked (more valued) category, while Z ply corresponded to the marked (less valued) category.

Revisiting Andean dualism and asymmetry in light of the semantic field of yana-

Author: Isabel Yaya (School of Advanced Study, University of London)  email

Summary

The paper reviews some of the uses of yana- in colonial and present-day ethnographic contexts. It discusses evidence of asymmetrical relationships in the models under consideration and enquires about the historical transformations that would have affected Andean dual systems.

Long Abstract

In his seminal article "Mirrors and maize: the concept of yanantin among the Macha of Bolivia" ([1978] 1986) Tristan Platt offered a comprehensive analysis of dualistic principles and its derivative, the quadripartite model, interwoven in the social organization, subsistence activities and ritual productions of the Macha (dept. of Potosí). This work gathers ample evidence that gender opposition underlies the Macha communal fabric and induces a system of representations that conditions socio-economic reproduction. In his concluding remarks, Platt also invited further enquiry into the extended acceptations of the term yanantin, which might apply to a symmetrical pair, as much as to an unequal relationship between two interdependent components. My paper follows up on this consideration and begins by reviewing some of the uses of yana- in colonial and present-day ethnographic contexts. This survey suggests that hierarchy is inherent to the dualistic models under consideration. The paper then moves on to discuss the implications of this evidence for the study of dual organizations in the Andes. As a means to initiate the discussion, it asks whether reciprocity can be reconciled with asymmetrical relationship and, if so, how? Finally, how can we bring a historical perspective to this analysis and assess the transformations that affected Andean dual systems across time?

The archive as objectively offered object

Author: Christos Lynteris (University of Cambridge)  email

Summary

Based on archival experience in China, Russia and California, this paper builds on Platt’s notion of the archive as a field event by approaching anthropological archival research from the viewpoint of the notion of the ‘objectively offered object’ developed by the Romanian Surrealist Gherasim Luca.

Long Abstract

Tristan Platt’s work is transversed by an enduring critical approach to the Archive. This paper examines Platt’s notion of “the Archive as a field event” by relating my research experience with archives in China, Russia and California to the notion of the ‘Objectively Offered Object’ developed by the Romanian Surrealist poet and theorist Gherasim Luca (1913-1994). The paper will problematise anthropological work with and within archives as underlined not by evental encounters with exceptional or extraordinary items, but as a constant process of desiring production vis-à-vis the Archive; a process based not so much on ‘discovery’, as on ‘immersement’. Following Deleuze’s reception of Luca’s theory, the paper will argue that this process germinates an anthropological rapport to the Archive as the “stammer [of History] in itself [and] with itself”.

La lucha por la tierra indígena después de la Visita General en Charcas y el sur andino

Author: Luis Miguel Glave Testino (Colegio de América, UPO)  email

Summary

Las reducciones y el despojo de tierras. Las formas del expolio y la defensa de sus recursos. El papel de los curacas y sus defensores, como Martín de Goicochea Martiartu con los Macha. Esas luchas de 1608 continúan las que se muestran en Qaraqara-Charcas.

Long Abstract

Reduccciones indígenas y posesión de la tierra. Luchas legales por la tierra. Cultura política india en la época colonial temprana. Charcas y el sur andino con principal énfasis en el caso de los Macha. La figura de los españoles que apoyaron a los indios en la defensa de sus recursos: el caso de Martín de Goicochea Martiartu.

Religious transformations of Andean mentalities among the peoples of the Atacama oases, 16th-17th centuries

Author: Jorge Alfredo Hidalgo Lehuedé (University of Chile)  email

Summary

Early Christianity in Atacama was incorporated among already existing religious practices, generating a religious behaviour adapted to the requirements of the conquerors and to ritual needs of agro-pastoral communities. These rites can be appreciated in several 17th C extirpation of idolatry trials.

Long Abstract

Although documentation on Christianization in Atacama is scarce, we know it began before permanent Spanish administration was established in the area. Early Christianity was probably incorporated as one more religious practice among the others already existing, generating a religious behaviour adapted both to the requirements of the conquerors and to the ritual needs of the agro-pastoral communities. These rites can be appreciated in several 17th century extirpation of idolatry trials, which strengthened the role of the Church as propitiators of fertility and abundance.

The Amazonian experience of Brazilian liberalism: an ethnohistorical approach to the 19th century in the Brazilian Amazon

Author: Mark Harris (University of St Andrews)  email

Summary

This presentation will address Platt’s work on the Indian experience of the 19th century and the threads and traces of past actions that can be found there. I will focus on religious symbols, festivals and calendars and their control by the Catholic church.

Long Abstract

One of the enduring motifs in Tristan Platt's work is that of merging horizons, and by implication their splitting apart. To see in an event (e.g. tribute payment) or process (e.g. gestation and childbirth) a combining and recombining of various historical threads requires a particular kind of intellectual approach; one which avoids an over-theorized conceptual structure and is sensitive to the undercurrents of surface of phenomena. This presentation will address Platt's work on the Indian experience of the 19th century and the threads and traces of past actions that can be found there. In particular I seek to build bridges between the eastern Amazon and southern Andes through an examination of religious symbols, festivals and calendars and their control by the Catholic church.

At the frontiers of empire: re-examining early colonial entradas east of the Southern Andes

Author: Isabelle Daillant (CNRS)  email

Summary

The paper reconsiders the early colonial evidence relating to expeditions to the Amerindian lowlands, focussing on the groups of the Andean foothills as a specific category between highland and lowland societies.

Long Abstract

The paper reconsiders the early colonial evidence relating to expeditions to the Amerindian lowlands, focussing on the groups of the Andean foothills as a specific category between highland and lowland societies.

The trajectories of discourse in the construction of indigenous-state relations today (Andes-Amazon region)

Author: Rosaleen Howard (Newcastle University)  email

Summary

Discourse of diversity enshrined in Constitutions of Bolivia (2009) and Ecuador (2008) incorporates concepts purportedly deriving from ‘indigenous cosmovisions’. We examine terms such as buen vivir (‘living well’; Quechua sumak kawsay; Aymara suma qamaña) and ask to what extent this is the case.

Long Abstract

The paper will examine shifts in the official discourse of diversity over recent decades in the Andean-Amazonian states, enshrined in the reformed constitutional texts of Bolivia (2009) and Ecuador (2008), and in recent legislation in Peru since Humala's election (2011). The US-derived ideological associations of 'multiculturalism' (Hale 2002) led to 'interculturalism' being the preferred paradigm in the Andes of the 1990s, while new conceptualisations have come to the fore since 2000: 'intraculturalism', 'pluri-nationalism', 'decolonization', 'buen vivir', to mention a few. Working with Voloshinov's (1973) discussion of the polyvalence of the ideological sign, the paper will ask questions about the trajectories of discourse: Where do such concepts arise? How do they spread? How are they incorporated into policy? What multiplicity of meanings are attributed to them by the state and at the grassroots? Importantly, do they offer us a renewed chance to look at the complex middle ground (the taypi that Platt drew our attention to as early as the 1980s) between indigenous/state identities and perspectives on power? Special attention will be paid to the concept of buen vivir ('living well'), expressed in Quechua as sumak kawsay and in Aymara as suma qamaña. This concept is articulated in state legislation in Bolivia and Ecuador today, yet what relation does it really have to an 'indigenous cosmovision', as many commentators profess?

Vive Potosí, columna y obelisco de la fe

Author: Thérèse Bouysse-Cassagne (CNRS)  email

Summary

Because of its wealth Potosí appeared to the chronicler as a bulwark of Spanish religion against the unfaithful and the heretics. But what was the reality of the cults on the Rich Mountain during its first century of exploitation?

Long Abstract

Hace unos pocos anos hemos publicado en el libro Qaraqara-Charka una primera evaluación del impacto de la evangelización en el Centro sur andino y mas concretamente en la mina de Porco. En esta ponencia desearíamos pensar como fue vivida la religión cristiana en otra mina de la misma región, concretamente en Potosí.

El cronista Buenaventura y Salinas escribía en 1630" Vive Potosí para cumplir tan peregrinos deseos, como tiene España; vive para apagar las ansias de todas las naciones extranjeras, que llegan a agotar sus dilatados senos; vive para rebenque del Turco, para envidia del Moro,para temblor de Flandes, y terror de Inglaterra, vive vive columna y obelisco de la fe". Asi que Potosí según las palabras del cronista aparecía por su riqueza como el sostén de la religión de los Españoles frente a los infieles y a los herejes.

Pero cual fue la realidad de los cultos en el Cerro Rico en el primer siglo de su explotación? Que cultos cristianos o no se practicaban en la gran urbe . Como los curas de indios evaluaban la fé de los mineros?

A bloodless combat: appreciating "Mirrors and Maize" (1971) from central Peru

Authors: Frank Salomon (University of Wisconsin Madison)  email
Luis Andrade Ciudad (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú)  email

Summary

This presentation will analyze the speeches and songs of Inka tinkuy in the central Andean community of Rapaz.

Long Abstract

Tristan Platt's early ethnographic essay, "Mirrors and Maize" (published 1978 in French, 1986 in English) powerfully guided Andean ethnography by characterizing as fundamental cultural structures yanantin and tinkuy: generative symbols of reciprocity, applied in combat, marriage and polity. Thanks to Platt, tinkuy is a well-known term for programmed "ritual combat" between moieties or opposed villages. Tinkuy is practiced (or remembered) in northern Ecuador and various southern Andean locales. Today Rapaz, a central-Peruvian Quechua village, uses the word tinkuy as the name of a dramatized ritual combat, but with big differences. Ordinarily, central Peruvian dramas of combat are "dances of the conquest" about the Spanish invasion. Their plots emphasize the failure of reciprocity that initiate colonial history. Rapaz' Inka tinkuy, by contrast, only concerns prehispanic events. It runs contrary to the ideas of sacrificial battle Platt documented in Bolivia, as well as to the historicist Pizarran plot. This paper examines the speeches and songs of Inka tinkuy (as pronounced in a rarely documented variety of Quechua 1 called Yaro), with emphasis on its implications about Inka conflict and solidarity.

Ayllu andino, política y estado: la investigación científica de Tristan Platt y los derechos indígenas en Bolivia

Author: Ricardo Calla (Universidad de la Cordillera)  email

Summary

La presente ponencia explora el accidentado e inconcluso proceso de reconocimiento académico, político y legal del ayllu andino en la Bolivia moderna precipitado por las investigaciones de Platt en el Norte de Potosí a partir de los 1970s y tras la publicación del seminal “Espejos y Maíz” de 1976.

Long Abstract

El texto “Espejos y Maíz: Temas de la estructura simbólica andina” –publicado en Bolivia en 1976 como Cuaderno de Investigación No. 10 por el Centro de Investigación para el Campesinado (CIPCA)– puede considerarse como uno de los textos políticamente más influyentes de la etnología andinista para fines del siglo XX y principios del XXI. La presente ponencia explora el accidentado e inconcluso proceso de reconocimiento académico, político y legal del ayllu andino en la Bolivia moderna precipitado por las investigaciones de Platt en el Norte de Potosí, prestando paralelamente atención al desarrollo de la etnocartografía científica bolivianista –iniciada también por Platt, en estrecho trabajo conjunto con Harris, a fines de los 1970s y comienzos de los 1980s– como interfase entre la investigación académica y el intenso activismo en pro de los derechos culturales, sociales, económicos, políticos y territoriales de los indígenas que caracteriza a la Bolivia más contemporánea. Destacando el hecho de que incluso hasta hoy en día el ayllu andino no cuenta con un reconocimiento constitucional y legal por parte del Estado boliviano, se indaga también sobre el carácter marcadamente propagandista e instrumental –con respecto de los derechos indígenas– del cambio constitucional acaecido en Bolivia en 2009 y que dio a luz, en desmedro del legado republicano de este país, al actual “Estado Plurinacional” boliviano.

A new curacal archive: autonomy and administration in 20th century Macha

Author: Tristan Platt (University of St Andrews)  email

Summary

In December 2013 I revisited the old Curaca of Macha (Alasaya), don Gregorio Carvajal, when I was shown a part of his archive I had not seen before. Correspondence from different instances show us Indian authorities at different levels writing and receiving correspondence, not only to and from national and Church authori- ties, but among themselves. The archive reflects the play of Indian authority and communal sovereignty dur- ing the period of indigenous fiscal autonomy during the 20th century, and includes a local written expression of the tributary “pact”. Don Gregorio also recited an oral template of the notarial form for the documents he had written recognising fulfillment by tributaries of their “turno forzoso” (mita obligations). I compare this template with documents written by his father don Agustin Carvajal, ex-combatiente of the Chaco war, now stored in the Historical Archive of Potosí. This shows the creative combination of old Spanish legal formulae, reflecting the reproduction in the 20th century of the democracy of the “Old Régime”.

Long Abstract

None provided.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.