Social Identities and State Collapse: A Diachronic Study of Tiwanaku Burials in the Moquegua Valley, Peru
thesisposted on 30.01.2012, 00:00 by Nicola O. Sharratt
Taking the disintegration of the Tiwanaku state (ca. AD 1000) as an example, this thesis investigates how local communities respond to state collapse. Archaeological research on collapse has largely focused on its economic and political implications. However, states also act as sources of identity and the fragmentation of a state can radically alter how its members and their descendents view themselves. Utilizing the argument that funerals are important moments for the construction, maintenance and negotiation of identities, this study examines changes in funerary practice in the Moquegua Valley, Peru to explore how community members defined themselves as groups and individuals when the Tiwanaku state fragmented. Drawing on biological and cultural data from burials at Chen Chen (a site dating to the height of Tiwanaku state presence in Moquegua) and from Tumilaca la Chimba (a smaller site established after the state disintegrated), this research indicates the complex ways in which collapse phase mourners both maintained a community identity rooted in their Tiwanaku ancestry and also redefined salient intra-community identities.