Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Contesting Death: Mortuary Practice, Empire, and Resistance in Southern Peru

Event Poster

Friday, November 4, 2022

3:00 - 4:15 p.m.

128 Hope Street, Giddings House Room 212

How do interactions between empires and Indigenous communities change ritualized behavior and produce new relationships of power? This talk explores the relationship between local mortuary practice and the Inca (15th century) and European (16th century) conquests of the Chincha Valley on Peru's South Coast. Dr. Jacob L. Longers employs various methods ranging from survey and excavation to drone photography and Bayesian statistical modeling to study a landscape of over 500 graces. Transformations in tomb use and post-mortem manipulation of the dead coincided with Inca and European incursions, demonstrating mortuary practice as a means of reshaping the socio-political landscape and resisting imperial control. Dr. Bongers's research reveals the agency and adaptability of Chincha communities during one of the most turbulent periods in Peruvian history. It widens the scope of imperialism studies to include a mortuary perspective on the dynamics between empires and local peoples. 

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