Forgotten Territorialities

The Materiality of Indigenous Pasts

Gustavo Verdesio

he research produced on colonial Latin America in the last two decades by scholars trained in language and literature departments shows dramatic differences in comparison to what was previously produced in the field. Since the early 1980s, these scholars have been building, slowly but effectively, a corpus of works that shows a higher degree of awareness of the complexity of colonial situations.1 These changes were acknowledged by Rolena Adorno in a 1988 article, where she describes what she first calls a paradigm shift— cambio de paradigma (11)— and later an “emergence of certain new practices and priorities”—aparición de ciertas prioridades y prácticas nuevas (12). That shift consists mainly of two theoretical moves: first, a change of focus from literature to discourse; second, a growing concern for the problematic of the Other (11). This means that practitioners in the field of colonial Latin American literature stopped worrying about the celebration of the literary value of texts and focused, instead, on the diversity of discourses that characterize a colonial situation (14). Such a shift of focus is related to the theoretical move proposed by Walter Mignolo (e.g., 1992, 810; 1991), that consists of distinguishing between a canon and a corpus-oriented research. For Mignolo (1989a), a study of the totality of texts (be they written in European alphabetic systems or not) produced under colonial situations is mandatory if one wants to account for, and understand properly, a colonial situation. In his opinion, one should talk about colonial semiosis (the totality of symbolic messages and exchanges in colonial situations) instead of colonial discourse—an expression that limits the corpus to verbal messages, whether oral or written. One of the consequences of the move he proposed was the incorporation


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of maps, amoxtllis, kipus, and other objects that served as material support for symbolic messages, into the research agenda of colonial Latin American studies produced by members of language and literature departments (see Mignolo 1989b and 1992, among many others). The incorporation of nondiscursive sign systems, in addition to the emergence of a series of studies focusing on authors of indigenous descent—such as Guaman Poma, Santa Cruz Pachacuti Yamqui, and Titu Cusi Yupanqui from the Andean region, as well as the publication of Fernando Alva Ixtlilxochitl’s work and a reassessment of the Popol Vuh and the Relaciones geográficas, from Mesoamerica—and the appearance of new studies on women writers—besides the already canonical Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz—are symptoms of the so-called paradigm shift in colonial Latin American studies. According to both Adorno (1988) and Mignolo (1992), all this results in a new situation in the field characterized by the incorporation of the indigenous, female, and other non-European/nonpatriarchal perspectives to the scholarship produced within the boundaries of the discipline. All this progress toward a less colonized view of colonial times is undeniable. However, it is my contention that there is still a lot of work to do, if one’s goal is to produce a more complete picture of colonial semiosis. One of the issues that needs attention is the dearth of studies on colonial situations in territories occupied by Amerindians who did not organize their societies around a state. Most works published in the area have as their object the texts produced about (and sometimes, although less frequently, by) the indigenous cultures usually considered the most “developed”: the Inca, the Maya, and the Mexica or Aztec. As a consequence, the geographic areas favored by a high percentage of the research in the field of Latin American colonial studies are Mesoamerica and the Andes. Other geographic areas and peoples are thus, more often than not, neglected. The vast majority of scholars trained in language and literature departments do not pay much attention to the existence of, for example, Guarani culture— despite the fact that it covered an enormous expanse of land and that its members outnumbered most of the other Amerindian populations. The case of other cultures that did not organize themselves around a state (for example, hunter-gatherers) is even worse: almost nobody in the field studies them.2 To make matters worse, extinct “prehistoric” cultures receive very little attention from scholars in the discipline.3 We could speculate endlessly about the possible reasons for this neglect. However, one possible cause is the ethnocentric prejudice of scholars when they choose their object of


Verdesio . Forgotten Territorialities

study. Practitioners of the discipline may prefer to study the “great civilizations” of the continent because our ideological framework is determined by a teleological and evolutionary criterion. To put it another way, what may make the three great cultures so attractive to us, Western scholars, is their high level of social development in the framework of the Occidental episteme. Our way of understanding history as a teleological progression, as an evolution toward a certain goal or ideal, makes the Inca, Aztec, and Maya cultures look much closer than the others to the evolutionary ideal that predominates in our Western societies: they had a state, good administrative organization, armies, division of labor, and so forth. In other words, those cultures resembled what we consider (consciously or not) the highest degree of evolution possible. That highest degree of evolution coincides, of course, with the one reached by Occidental culture. Other indigenous cultures, ignored by our discipline, were more difficult to compare, in evolutionary terms, to the stages of organization reached by Western culture. Their incommensurability in relation to our cognitive framework might well be, as I suggested above, one of the causes for the scant interest they have inspired among scholars in the field of Latin American colonial studies. However, if our goal is to account for the colonial clash in its entirety, we must pay more attention to those cultures. As I mentioned above, we do not know enough about what happened in the territory dominated by the Inca, Maya, and Mexica before the development of these three cultures or about these cultures themselves, due to the frequent generalizations we make about them, thus downplaying the dramatic differences between the diverse regions and subregions that formed their vast territories.4 Moreover, still another blind spot in our research agendas affects the knowledge produced about even the best-known pre-Columbian cultures: an almost blind faith in the truth-value of colonial texts supplemented by a lack of interest in material culture. One of the ways to avoid some of the traps of such a faith in the text is to study the ways in which European subjects constructed America beyond the discursive level. With all due respect to contributions such as Edmundo O’Gorman’s (1958), which focus on the discursive “invention” of the lands and peoples of the Americas, I believe we need to pay more attention to the other ways in which that invention took place. In order to understand that invention, it is necessary to represent it as a long process that included acts of actual territorial appropriation. That is why I think it is necessary to focus not only on the intellectual operations that granted “being” (43) to that unknown (from a European perspective) lump of land, but also on the

The animals reproduced immediately. the fauna. the flora. through specific actions. and later (much later) Montevideo: from these urban centers European civilization expanded to the rest of the region. the nature they encountered. as we will see. In the Río de la Plata region. from these sites. unfavorable conditions notwithstanding. a total control of nature. but that they also set out to modify. Bovine and equine cattle were introduced to that territory at the beginning of the seventeenth century. lands not . Those actions had very concrete effects over the territory. like Félix de Azara’s (1969). on the contrary. European subjects chose to modify it. Instead of doing what “civilized man” does—dominate nature— Amerindians were viewed as dominated by natural forces. slowly but relentlessly. The pampas that surrounded these cities were an obstacle for the expansion of Western civilizational patterns around the Río de la Plata. This operation entailed. 337) points out. strongly influenced the forms social life would take on those lands. reaching numbers in the six digits. European civilization began to produce changes in the region. the northern shore of the Río de la Plata (the territory of modern-day Uruguay). xxv). In particular. and the human beings that populated the Americas. 10–11). according to Frederick Turner (1994. This is a particularly serious flaw from an Occidental point of view.88 Nepantla other actions the Occidental subject performed in American lands. the names of these cities are Santa Fé. from the Occidental vantage point.5 These animals became the first European occupants of the region because it was considered at that time as tierras de ningún provecho—unprofitable lands—that is. the introduction of cattle in one of the regions I propose to study. They decided to do so because the Indians they encountered had not achieved. from a European perspective. Buenos Aires. thus modifying the landscape forever. the Amerindians were at the mercy of nature (Gerbi 1993. These cities were located on the border that separated the walled structure characteristic of European cities from the natural open spaces of the countryside. as Antonello Gerbi (1992. Those actions are proof that the Spaniards and other Europeans who arrived in America did not limit themselves to rethinking the landscape. In America. a modification of aboriginal nature. as something that is there to be used by human beings. One key element for the expansion of European civilization was the introduction of bovine cattle. due to the tendency of Western subjects to view nature as a commodity. some of these urban settlements started to grow in the second half of the sixteenth century. it was from the cities that European subjects organized the conquest of the land. according to some testimonies. Confronted with an unknown nature. but.

Today. Uruguayan lands are seen as a cattle paradise. the European biota had achieved a certain degree of biological complexity during the Neolithic era. as we know both today.” depending on the authors. fails (or forgets) to account for the historical moment that was the beginning of social life and the changes inflicted on nature. 7) assertion about the ecological component of European imperialism’s success.6 What those observers did not mention (probably because they were not aware of it) were the ecological changes that were taking place before their eyes. I don’t want to give the impression that I am attempting here to explain the changes in the landscape in purely ecological terms.89 Verdesio . as Darwin (1989. It was the modification of nature that paved the way not only for the emergence of a nation-state. For three centuries. Numerous testimonies by travelers concur in their appreciation of both the cattle wealth available and the fertility of the land. the thesis elaborated by Crosby in his two seminal books. and others changed their habitat or their behavior. Yet cattle and human beings were not the only agents of biological change: some species of trees from the Old World—such as the orange and the peach—were also responsible for ecological changes (Azara 1969. but also for the destruction of all possible alternative forms of social life in the territory. I believe one has to be cautious about embracing models that explain the success of an ecological invasion by recourse to an alleged superiority of the European biota over its American counterpart. In his opinion.8 Although the ecological disturbance was dramatic and some of its effects were definitive. above all. Although there is some truth to Alfred Crosby’s (1996. 81. 119) noticed. as a consequence of the development of agriculture and the domestication of .” or as a “New Europe. Forgotten Territorialities good enough to justify the existence of a Spanish settlement. although based on verifiable elements. as a community of “(white) European settlers. in nuce. This is.7 This way of representing the territory. the material foundation for pastoral life started to develop: killing cows and riding horses would be the most common means of subsistence for the Europeans who would later settle in the region. As a consequence. the multitudes of cattle had produced serious modifications to the area’s biota. travelers marveled at the abundance they saw and. The fact is that when Charles Darwin visited the region in the 1830s. 98). As a consequence of their rapid reproduction. at the culture of waste that abundance engendered among the criollos and other locals (including gauchos and Amerindians). some animals and plants disappeared. Their grazing and their feces started a process of modification of the flora and the soil.

like the opportunistic microorganisms that invaded a biota not prepared for their arrival. killer microorganisms helped decimate even the most densely populated Amerindian settlements (195–216). some diseases (unknown to Amerindians) helped make way for European invaders. The territory of the modern-day nation-state of Uruguay—a territory conceived by its inhabitants as something natural. the radical modification of the American environment. In the case of the northern shore of the Río de la Plata. I propose to understand the symbolic representations of that territory from a diachronic perspective. In Crosby’s model. diseases. then. That is why it is fair to say that Hernandarias (governor of the region at the beginning of the seventeenth century) had a political as well as an economic motivation when he decided to populate the region and to introduce cattle in it. in isolation. is to forget the relevance of economic ones: it was both the economic and technological transformations taking place in Europe that allowed the continent to send its people to populate the rest of the world (161–62). to view the current situation of that territory against the background of the actions that transformed it into what is today. and human beings) do not explain. William Cronon believes that to talk about ecological factors. That is. In this way. 165). the observer will be able to study current representations of the land against the background of the foundational destruction that was the condition of possibility of its current shape and development.90 Nepantla animals. Because the corresponding period occurred later in the Americas. . the changes suffered by the ecosystem were a consequence of the European settlers’ need to cultivate crops and raise cattle. For example. by themselves. The modification of the environment that started in the seventeenth century is largely ignored by present-day inhabitants of the northern shore of the Río de la Plata and by those who produce knowledge about it. It is impossible to understand that process without taking into account the political and economic situation in Europe that made the expansion of Western culture possible (Cronon 1995. the changes in the land were a consequence of the need to produce commodities marketable in the context of a global market dominated by Europe. the reproduction and success of old-world species (plants. However. as something that was always already there—is thus a consequence of the ecological changes produced by the economic exploitation of the land started by Hernandarias. the complexity of the biota European conquistadores encountered in the new lands was lower than the one they brought with them (18–20). animals. something given. In other words. What I propose is.

or material) of those lands is rather incomplete if the objective pursued is the study of a colonial situation in which territorial representations and practices were not exclusively European. which is the general representation of the lands without attention to topographic details. from the one produced by European cartographic and territorial practices.9 The pintura is not. the goal of chorography is to represent. with the inclusion of the most principal parts that it depends on. but a chorographic representation of the territory. ideological. successively. by describing all the places in detail. It describes the smallest parts found in those places. 203): Geography is a demonstration of the totality of the known Earth. manifests each of those places in particular and all they contain. a geographic. a part of a whole. consider the following passage by sixteenth-century cosmographer Alonso de Santa Cruz (1983. without relating it to the totality—or with little interest in the global picture—is. but very different. then. as if the effort were to paint or to resemble an eye or an ear. a very important distinction that allows . (My translation) This tendency to represent the particular. For a more detailed description of chorography. 50–51). villages. Forgotten Territorialities The image of the Americas we can get from studying European appropriations (be they discursive. Chorography is the knowledge of the particularities of a territory. . rivers. generally drawn by an indio viejo (an old Indian). Walter Mignolo and Barbara Mundy have studied the case of the Relaciones geográficas. the reports requested by the Spanish Crown from the local authorities about the site where the settlement was located. and similar things. whereas geography pays attention to the whole. Amerindians of diverse ethnic origins also conceptualized and practiced the space they inhabited. That is why some scholars have undertaken the study of indigenous territorial lore—a knowledge that was contemporary. as opposed to geography. . it differs from chorography in that the latter. a drawing) of the area. according to William Boelhower (1987. Louis de Vorsey (1992) has studied the presence of indigenous cultural traces in European colonial maps in order to rescue (at least partially) the Amerindians’ spatial conceptualizations. .91 Verdesio . as if its goal were to paint the whole head. like their harbors. respecting its proportions. These relaciones included the responses of the Crown’s officials in America to several questions (from fifty to two hundred) and a pintura (a picture.

need to construct an interpretive system that entails a comparative understanding of semiotic interactions across cultural boundaries. is a comparative study of human interaction in colonial situations (93–94). were invisible to the European gaze. and to account for the indigenous side of colonial semiosis. The hermeneutic tradition predominant in the West tends to suppress other traditions to which the knowing subject does not belong (98). The uniform space created by geography. 97) proposes an interpretive apparatus that should depend neither on just one cultural tradition (the Occidental one) nor on a single locus of enunciation.92 Nepantla us to understand the colonial encounter. because the Amerindians. of territorial representations on durable surfaces—may still be a research agenda strongly influenced by ideological biases originating in a literate. that artificial construct. which is tantamount to saying that he or she was not lost without a compass (53). what he proposes is to rethink the way in which we understand (97). In order to achieve such an interpretive system. the European subject depended on the chorographic knowledge of the indios viejos to learn about the topography of a specific place. For this reason. However. rendered the indigenous local spaces insignificant (51). In my opinion. who had a chorographic notion of space. in sum. I believe that the study of indigenous territorial representations drawn on diverse surfaces does not have to be the dead end of a research agenda that attempts to compare European maps with indigenous. but should acknowledge the existence of more than one cultural tradition. Mignolo’s and Mundy’s work on the Relaciones geográficas and Louis de Vorsey’s research on the presence of traces of indigenous territorial knowledge in European maps are very important steps toward a more balanced study of colonial semiosis. In one of his articles. practitioners of colonial studies. Mignolo argues that we. This operation consists in opposing a drawing on a durable surface (a map) to an equivalent object of indigenous origin—any form of . What Mignolo proposes. according to Boelhower. then. Having said that. European episteme. alternative territorial representations. in the Relaciones geográficas. was due to the fact that the Amerindian had the eye as a measure. which was dominated by a geographic conception. Mignolo (1989b. and they contribute to the construction of the new hermeneutics he proposes. he has undertaken research projects that include the study of graphic indigenous territorial representations produced before the colonial encounter (see Mignolo 1989b and 1993. among others). The importance of his efforts is undeniable. the study of hard copies—that is. This.

the mental representation of space—between cultures that make maps and cultures that do not feel the need to produce them. As Wood states. then. to possess knowledge about the territory is very different from transmitting that knowledge to others (34). that is. to restore some materiality to those peoples who were. This comparison of two different conceptualizations of space during the colonial encounter is. to distinguish between mapmaking and mapping. In this way. and so forth. which leads Mignolo to undertake the study of an indigenous object that resembles Occidental maps. at Europeans’ request. literally. The study of the material aspects of aboriginal spatiality could very well be a tool to recover indigenous historical agency. What I mean is that we do not need to limit our agenda to the study of the indigenous presence in European maps and to aboriginal representations on durable surfaces in order to recover the Amerindians’ spatial conceptualizations. like the amoxtllis of Mesoamerica. all human beings have the capacity to conceive of their relation to the space that surrounds them through the production of mental maps. it will be possible to see to what extent the continent that European cartography represents as a blank page was already inscribed by the Amerindians’ spatial practices.93 Verdesio . Forgotten Territorialities indigenous territorial representation. According to Denis Wood (1992. I have proposed two possible ways to partially retrieve the spatial conceptualizations and practices of the indigenous peoples (of so-called historical time) who did not produce maps: the study of the information provided by colonial chronicles and the scrutiny of the most recent archaeological evidence (Verdesio 1997).10 Some cultures make material maps. It is not unusual to find cases of Amerindians who do not customarily produce territorial representations on durable surfaces and yet who. The goal is. strongly conditioned by the European model of territorial representation. If we accept this distinction. As we have already seen. the studies on the representation of the territory in colonial times by Mignolo and Mundy analyze maps and other territorial representations as symbolic systems that tell us something about . erased from the map—and from the history written by Western civilization. it will be possible to detect the traces left by the Indians on the land. Elsewhere. are able to draw them. It is appropriate. then. in my opinion. and others do not. 32). it is very difficult to limit our study to the mapmaking cultures and deny the existence of spatial conceptualizations by the cultures that have not produced that kind of object. their itineraries.

This kind of analysis allows him to offer valuable insights on many issues. For a research project that seeks to account for the worldview. In this respect. then. The absence of such an artifact in a given indigenous culture would prevent scholars from including that culture in a comparative study. then. The materiality of the actual possession of the territory. the materiality he deals with. and everyday life of indigenous peoples who did not produce sign carriers. can tell us a lot about the worldview of the culture that produced it. social organizations. there is one thing archaeology can do for colonial Latin American literary and cultural studies scholars: put us in contact with the . The notion of materiality I am interested in is broader and includes. he embarks on a comparative study of European books and their indigenous correlate: the Mesoamerican amoxtllis (69–122). studies of the land itself are scarce. that material culture is the only extant document of those “prehistoric” and historic Amerindians who did not produce sign carriers of any kind. Material culture. because not all indigenous cultures produced records that resembled Western sign carriers. also. what prevents him from studying cultures that lacked certain kinds of objects.94 Nepantla the worldview of their authors from both sides of the colonial clash. Consequently. Despite these problems. the materiality studied by Mignolo is. It can tell us. Thus. Mignolo (1995a) proposes to study the materiality of sign carriers in colonial situations. but rather as the final product of a human activity. as testimony of the actions that produced them. Of course. paradoxically. besides sign carriers. of the exploitation of the land. When he limits his study to two kinds of objects that seem to have an analogous (albeit not identical) function in two different cultures. something about indigenous knowledges that are not recorded on sign carriers such as maps. Moreover. In his monumental Darker Side of the Renaissance. However. that kind of comparison is not possible in all cases. pictographic writings. archaeology can be a helpful tool. all kinds of objects. among other reasons because the material aspects of culture can be as meaningful as symbolic systems are. archaeological methods are attractive because they propose a study of objects that does not view them only qua objects. such as sign carriers. is one that allows him to compare indigenous artifacts to European ones—a comparison that is possible only because there is an indigenous correlate for the Western book. However. archaeology is not a science exempt from subjectivities: the epistemological and ideological problems that affect it are multiple. or kipus. I am particularly interested in the interpretation of objects understood as relics or vestiges of human activities—that is. needs to be explored further.

95 Verdesio . It can also give additional support to research projects such as Sabine MacCormack’s impressive Religion in the Andes (1991). among other things. like the Incas. In this regard. they can clarify the ways in which religious power and political control worked or were understood in pre-Columbian states or in societies without states. if we believe only what the chronicles and other documents say about the way in which the Inca state controlled the territories and peoples under its aegis. 33) have proposed to . Kusch (1977. with the material aspects of a culture that we usually study only through its textual production. From different theoretical and disciplinary perspectives. Forgotten Territorialities actual objects. we may make a few interpretive mistakes. For instance. to avoid interpretive mistakes. hosted in their territories a vast array of ethnic groups that left innumerable testimonies—including pottery and architecture—that distinguish them from the dominant culture. Without that context it is difficult to understand the content of those conceptions and thought that Mignolo and Rodolfo Kusch seek to retrieve from oblivion. On the contrary. it may remind investigators of indigenous cultures that even the most homogenizing of them. say. Conversely. For instance. a book that shows. settlements that documents present as important administrative centers do not always live up to this billing when their sites are excavated. in more than one way. Recent archaeological investigations seem to indicate that the Inca did not occupy all the territories they conquered in the same way: the politico-administrative control mechanisms they devised varied substantially from location to location. What should interest us is the reconstruction of a cultural context— a series of activities that go beyond the mere study of indigenous conceptions and thought. the religious diversity of the Andean world and the different ways in which the various groups negotiated power and religious belief. Such an awareness of materiality can help us. The book compiled by Michael Malpass (1993) is an excellent example of what can be done when archaeologists compare the results of their excavations to the data offered by documents and chronicles: what the latter say is not always confirmed by archaeological research. 11) and Mignolo (1995b. Archaeological methods can also help recover indigenous thought. a study of the material culture of. For example. the Huarochiri or the Huamanga regions of the Andes could help supplement the valuable research produced on those territories and peoples by ethnohistorians such as Karen Spalding and Steve Stern. some settlements thought to be of lesser importance show a much more careful deployment of Inca administrative control and attention after the examination of archaeological data.

In this respect. And those material modifications are not only manifestations of thinking—understood only as “worldview” or “knowledge production”—but also part of a broader. 381).11 In any case. ancient knowledges and practices. Hence the need. from the preserved material evidence. in order to be able to incorporate them as living contributions to contemporary human life. What I mean is that the place of those subjects and their local knowledges from yesteryear in the present should have a status similar to the one we assign to modern subjects and knowledges. This living is perceived by us.96 Nepantla understand the indigenous cultural past in a way that considers it not only as ethnographic material but as a way of thinking in its own right. it will be impossible to take seriously the contribution of their knowledges to humankind. the way in which we should recover that cultural complex of conceptions and practices that we call life should not exclude the help of archaeologists. In this way. because their contribution is also for humankind as a whole. In sum. but for an actual archaeology of living that focuses on the study of human life understood as a series of conceptions and practices. for the Argentine philosopher. . to get a glimpse at the lives—the vital experiences—of those subjects from the past. 84) proposed: to study indigenous subjects in the context of their cultural coherence—which is tantamount to understanding culture as a strategy for living (98). to recover life itself (100). by joining forces with practitioners of other disciplines. the uses of space that constitute the memory of landscape (Erickson 1993. the efforts made by what is known as cognitive archaeology (see Renfrew and Zubrow 1997) and postprocessual archaeology are extremely promising in their attempt to retrieve cognitive patterns and traits. as vestiges of human activities that could serve as a guide to the practices that produced them in remote times. I propose something similar: to study how that indigenous thinking manifests itself in the continuity of human practices over a certain territory—that is. This respect should be the point of departure of our research. The student of territorial conceptions and practices should keep in mind that the landscape capital they represent is always the result of material modifications of the land by human beings. it will be possible to get a little closer to those local knowledges of the past understood as part of a way of life—understood as living. Thus. then. The idea is. life-world context. I believe we should look not only for an archaeology of knowledge. as a materiality. what I think is needed is an archaeology of living that does not differ much from what Kusch (1976. twentieth-century scholars. Without that basic respect for the Others and their knowledges.

but on an already inhabited. were more abundant than was believed before the series of excavations that began in 1986. among others. In the case of the northern shore of the Río de la Plata.12 However. (before the present) (Pi Hugarte 1993. The reconstruction of human activities in the territory should not only comprise the period covered by the life span of the so-called Amerindians of historical time (that is. on a blank page. The oldest of these mounds has been dated to 5000 b. at that time. The cerritos de indios or Indian mounds (visible earthen elevations up to four meters high) aroused the interest of archaeologists at a very early date. I suggest that we focus on those “prehistoric” cultures forgotten by most investigations in the field of Latin American colonial studies.p.p. then. and pictographs.13 The climate of the region is humid and subtropical. the ones encountered by Europeans on their arrival in the continent) but also extend back in time to the activities of the so-called Paleo-Indians who preceded them. personal communication. 5). petroglyphs. The Amerindians that preceded historical-time Indians on the land not only used it but also altered the landscape: they left visible marks. July 1999). The resources available in the landscape. and the land is mostly plain and surrounded by brooks and swamps (Bracco 1992. López Mazz. on those ethnic groups that did not organize social life around urban centers or states: hunter-gatherers and early agriculturalists. 140. it is only since 1986 that the excavations of the Indian mounds of the easternmost part of Uruguay are being studied systematically. 45). Forgotten Territorialities understood less as a merely academic enterprise than as a detotalizing practice of solidarity with the Other. inscribed space.97 Verdesio . These ethnic groups of so-called historical time did not operate. which means that the fauna and flora of the territory had been used by human beings before them. whose practices show a deliberate occupation strategy (Ferrés in Vidart 1996. López Mazz and Bracco 1991. Those elevations have been built by human beings. (José M. The analyses of the remains of fauna found in the mounds show an abundance of big . I will come back to this topic in relation to the Latin American subaltern studies agenda later in this essay. architectural constructions. It is my contention that it is difficult (if not impossible) to attain a general view of the spatial practices that preceded the arrival of the Spaniards if we do not take into account the practices of the Amerindians of “prehistoric” time. the Amerindians the Spaniards encountered at their arrival had been inhabiting the land since the year 2000 b. Thus. 55).

allows archaeologists to advance hypotheses that contradict ideas predominant before the 1986 excavations. . 274). This assumption leads archaeologists to conclude that the groups who built the mounds had a certain degree of sedentism. Another kind of food available was (and still is) the nuts of the palm tree (Butiá capitata). which adds still another discrepancy to the model of hunter-gatherers accepted for the region before 1986—the latter are traditionally portrayed as small groups of nomadic people in constant and uneven struggle against the scarce resources offered by the environment (López Mazz and Bracco 1989. the available evidence suggests that the area where they are located was occupied during the spring and summer (López Mazz 1995b. a tree that covers. This model is possible thanks to the high return values (which is the difference between investment and benefit) of the available resources: cervidae and nuts—considered.98 Nepantla mammals—especially deer that were much bigger than those now known (López Mazz and Bracco 1992. 275). The model attributes to these hunter-gatherers an annual exploitation of different environments following the seasonal cycle (277). together with the high number of mounds found. as the species of highest return value (276). It is estimated that at the time of the occupation of the mounds. In the case of the mounds. The model proposed now describes a region populated by hunter-gatherers who exploited a highly productive territory. This economic picture. the area covered by the palms must have been even bigger (275). To talk about seasonal exploitation of the land presupposes that these groups settled in different regions at different times during the year. 111). 94). The fact that seawolf fangs have been found at a site distant thirty kilometers from the coast suggests an exploitation of the land that connected the coastal zones with the lowlands where the mounds were located (López Mazz and Bracco 1992. to surrounding areas located beyond the twenty-kilometer area proposed as a tentative limit for the site. today. in archaeological literature. also. but extended. The model they propose today is of a territory that hosted a highly concentrated population with economic strategies so efficient that they would tolerate a high investment of energy (the building of mound structures) without a utilitary return. around two hundred thousand hectares. The exploitation of resources in the time frame provided by a particular season (or seasons) did not take place exclusively at the archaeological sites that host the mounds. Archaeologists have found evidence of consumption of the nut butiá: burnt seeds—a finding that changes dramatically the archaeological panorama of the region as represented by traditional scholarship.

90). interestingly. There are many other studies of “prehistoric” Amerindians that show a sharp contrast between what was believed about them and what recent archaeological investigations suggest. suggest a complex society with a rather sophisticated organization of communal labor (López Mazz and Bracco 1989. as is proved by the refuge they seek at the top of the mounds during the frequent floods to which the region is subject. and unfriendly environment.99 Verdesio . There are also remains of combustion associated with the burials (351). windy. the markers they left are part of the landscape capital inherited by the human beings who came later to those same lands. which served as tombs for the Charrua Indians. as the abundant documentation about the bichaderos (pyramids of stone built on the elevations). The Charrua’s and the rural inhabitants’ practices prolong. but little time and effort have been devoted to the groups of hunter-gatherers that inhabited the area . 71). Conversely.14 Everything we know about the mounds points to the same conclusion: the “prehistoric” inhabitants of the northern shore of the Río de la Plata made inscriptions on the territory. do not present the traits that are typical of fires used for housing or food preparation. These funerary remains. Forgotten Territorialities López Mazz and Bracco (1992. Western scholars have paid much attention to the complex cultures that originated in the Lake Titicaca area. The Puna is a cold. 117–18). they seem to be classifiable as instances of ceremonial or ritual combustion (López Mazz 1992. suggests (Pi Hugarte 1993. 278) deduce the sedentism of the mound builders from the long time that the building of the structures took and from the abundance of resources offered by the environment. and the activities they performed are part of the history of human practices that later developed in that same territory. That is to say. 111). This characteristic allows archaeologists to conjecture the incipient development of a nonegalitarian society (López Mazz 1995a. which permits us to assume a funerary function for the mounds.15 The rural inhabitants of modern Uruguay notice them also. 54–55). All of them are located in the central part of the structure but at different depths (Femenías et al. where other hunter-gatherers offer us another image of territorial practices that contradicts Occidental preconceived ideas about the region and its “prehistoric” inhabitants. in this way. 348). The Amerindians of historical time did not fail to notice those markers. located four thousand meters high in the Cordillera. Human remains have been found in some mounds. the useful life of the “prehistoric” mounds (Vidart 1996. 1990. which. which present a differential treatment to diverse individuals. Let us consider now a case from the Andean Puna.

The nutritional habits of these hunter-gatherers were limited. a member of the camelidae family that was abundant in the region around Junin (an area containing the site of Pachamachay. This situation allowed the dwellers of the region to exploit natural resources annually. and it allows us to view the area in a way that differs dramatically from the image Western culture has produced of it. The natural resources available in that zone were. up to forty. who roam together). whereas the troop enjoys much more mobility (Rick 1980. it gets used to human presence with relative ease. too. perhaps. 4). one can conclude that the hunter-gatherers could not have had any trouble exploiting the vicuña for meat and other subproducts. The presence of this animal in the region is annual. For the Puna to become a suitable place for human beings it must have offered. If one takes into account that despite this animal’s very shy nature. hundreds of years ago. and if one also takes into consideration that its availability is annual and in a fixed territory.100 Nepantla in the more remote past. It lives in two kinds of basic groups: the band (comprised by a male individual and seven or eight females) and the troop (groups of several males. besides the permanent availability of vicuña. from which most of the information I use in this essay comes). The band lives in a more or less fixed territory. contrary to what was traditionally believed (due to the lack of research on this matter). In this hypothesis. due to its absolute absence of seasons. Yet the most recent studies of the region indicate that. Perhaps the cause of this lack of interest can be found in the marginal position of the Puna region in modern times—which may make scholars believe its status was the same in the past. without the interruptions provoked by the need to emigrate to more productive zones. This picture of the region contradicts all the assumptions we had until recently. This kind of annual exploitation supports the new model of the region’s early population proposed by John Rick: a dense population of hunter-gatherers with a high degree of sedentism (9). the following conditions: stone or bone for tools used in the exploitation of the camelid’s . According to Rick. to the consumption of meat and other products obtained from the vicuña. The survival and development of a dense population was made possible by the relative stability of natural resources in the Puna. 21). human beings may have operated as high-level ecological regulators (23). the relatively constant numbers of vicuña population in the Junin area were possible because the arrival of the human being in the region may have displaced the other natural predators dangerous to the camelidae. capable of providing food and housing to a high number of human beings. the Puna was a densely populated area (Rick 1980.

in which case a certain degree of sedentism is possible. only to move afterward to another site. This is a very important point because the degree of sedentism at that time (roughly from 5000 to 2000 b. suggests their almost permanent occupation. In the northern zone. Both kinds of housing locations were (and are) very abundant in the Puna (24). Let us say that if we superimpose a map of our way of representing the Puna as a human habitat upon what really occurred in that area—that is.101 Verdesio . It suggests that the area was densely populated by vicuñas and by human beings whose occupational strategy was fundamentally sedentary. all the archaeological evidence found in the refuges that served as a base of operations. approximately. In sum. Forgotten Territorialities subproducts and adequate refuges—whether in the form of rock shelters or caves.c.). in the archaeological sites excavated in the area— which covers approximately 250 square meters—researchers have found abundant proof of the existence of stone and bone tools. It was used again between the years . the new model proposed contradicts several preconceptions on which the traditional representation of the prehistory of the region was based. previous investigations about hunter-gatherers suggested two types of exploitation that consisted in (a) exhausting the resources of a given area. the territorial practices of the human beings who inhabited it in “prehistoric” time—we will see a sort of palimpsest that will allow us to visualize that territory from a different kind of hermeneutics. In this respect. from the Lake Titicaca area. and (b) avoiding exhausting the resources of the area. 411). archaeologists had yet to prove the hypothesized sedentism of its inhabitants. between five hundred and one thousand years before the creation of the great states of the region (Erickson 1993. in the territory of modern-day Bolivia. In the case of Pachamachay. Another significant case study also comes from the Andean zone— more concretely. Having provided proof of the existence of conditions for the survival and development of human beings in the Junin area. and in the sites that functioned as intermediate camps between the limits of the exploited territory and the base of operations. it will allow us to see an alternative representation of the territory and its exploitation by human agents that differs substantially from the traditional Occidental way of viewing it. That is. I am referring to the practice of a form of agriculture known as “raised fields”—a practice that was established.) was such that it could have become the foundation of a subsequent development of a culture of cattle shepherds in the region. Moreover. this kind of agriculture began circa three thousand years ago but was abandoned for several centuries (around 300 a.d.

Raised fields also guarantee the irrigation of the cultivable parcel during the dry season. some of the abandoned raised fields in the territory of modern-day Bolivia. neighbors. 291). In this way. Another consequence of these experiments is. besides. (Erickson 1992. primitive. These conclusions contest the general opinion among Occidental agronomy and economics experts that so-called traditional agricultural systems are backward. or traditional Andean communities of the ayllus kind (Erickson 1992. 374). This means it is within the reach of family groups. Today. This technique for the exploitation of the land consists in building cultivable platforms. Traditionally. even if we judge its results against capitalist standards. these “raised fields” seem to have been abandoned a few years before the arrival of the Spaniards in the region. Yet the most important result of the investigations now under way is that raised fields have proved to be a highly productive. with the collaboration of local indigenous families.102 Nepantla 1000 and 1450 a. However. to allow us to see “prehistoric” indigenous cultures previous to the great Andean states in a different light. elevating them over the natural surface of the soil through the accumulation of soil and debris taken from adjacent canals. They remind us of . that the intensity of the work required for this kind of agricultural technique is only a little higher than that needed for the practice of other traditional cultivation methods in the region. intensive agriculture has been associated with state organization of labor. and antieconomic. The raised fields method has proven to be efficient.d. then. these experiments suggest that the association between intensive agriculture and state bureaucracy does not imply a cause-effect nexus (Erickson 1993. thereby creating an ecosystem three times richer than the prairie for the growth of planted seeds. However. The results of these experiments are astounding. It has been found. they still remain uncultivated. efficient. the “prehistoric” peasants were able to kill two birds with one stone: they ensured the availability of water during the dry season and avoided flooding during the rainy season (289). and cheap form of cultivation. A group of scholars who practice experimental archaeology—using “prehistoric” agricultural methods to see what results can be obtained through them—are cultivating. in order to allow—in floodable zones—the water to run through the canals without flooding the cultivable parcel of land. The complexity of social organization required for this kind of land exploitation is surprisingly low. with the use of a single technique. 291). because—so the hypothesis goes—densely populated societies are supposed to require the application of a systematic type of land exploitation.

from Guaman Poma to Kattari in the Colonial Andes) and by looking for alternative ways of thinking and living” (Mignolo 1994a. once and for all.16 In this context. a few useful things. that left their mark in history by contesting colonial domination (e. For instance. to fossilized human activities that help us question the way in which we view. Forgotten Territorialities something we often forget: the so-called primitive peoples not only knew very well what they were doing. 66). insofar as it is opposed to the indigenous chorographic knowledge of the space that constitutes human habitats (Boelhower 1987. which he defines as comprising “all those social actions. from writing to social movements. That is. not only to acknowledge the territorial practices that took place before the arrival of the European subject. Sara Castro-Klarén (1999) has also been an advocate of a critical . in some of his articles.g. to suggest connections between the Latin American colonial studies agenda and the postcolonial theory corpus. The investigations that I have been describing resort to archaeological knowledge. and its survival is possible thanks to the metaphor of the blank page that erases from our imaginary any trace of spatial or territorial practices of non-European origin. related to a postcolonial theoretical framework. nowadays. the New World has been customarily represented. One of the possible ways to combat this situation is to open interstices in our imaginary that allow us. in our culture. The perspective offered by this kind of study of the indigenous past may seem. This colonial perspective still dominates our way of imagining the space we inhabit.103 Verdesio . The way in which he has managed to relate both disciplinary endeavors is by elaborating on the notion of a postcolonial reason. but also to acknowledge the presence and currency they still have in our present landscape. but also are able to teach us. to some. And that may indeed be the case: it all depends on what definition of postcolonial studies one is thinking of. as a savage land. in Latin America. 50–51). it has been depicted as something to be controlled or domesticated. and in our episteme. Mignolo has tried. twentiethcentury Occidental subjects. This Western hostility to the American landscape—an animus at the foundation of the literate city studied by Angel Rama (1984)—manifests itself as an overestimation of the globalizing gaze of the geographer. The dehistoricization of the territory and its dehumanization leave an imprint in our cognitive format. the space we inhabit. according to Frederick Turner.. Our geographic and discursive gaze is a Western device that has traditionally served the project of colonization of the American territory by European nations. In a similar vein.

According to Castro-Klarén. That myth was based on. what Dussel is saying is that modernity developed at the same time it occluded the rationality of its American Other. one of the consequences of this kind of theorization is that it forces us to acknowledge the influence of non-Western cultures in the formation of the Occidental subject. For that “prehistoric” landscape they modified. It is part of our present if we conceive it from a diachronic perspective that understands the landscape as an evolving entity that is transformed by the intervention of human activities. In other words. in order to be able to talk about postcolonial thinking in Latin America. Dussel’s project proposes to salvage reason and modernity through the destruction of the opposition between Self and Other as constitutive of the process of identity construction. as a long chain of which we.17 As Castro-Klarén (1999. especially in El encubrimiento del Otro (1994). but also its own knowledge of the knowledge of the Other. and Helen Tiffin (1989)—that “the postcolonial condition is not a post-independence phenomenon but rather an effect of the imperial process from the moment of colonization to this day” (145–46). Gareth Griffiths. In this framework. If we view our role in the territory as I suggest. present-day dwellers. it seems. are only a link— is a step toward the completion of some of the goals Castro-Klarén sees in Dussel’s agenda.104 Nepantla dialogue between both fields of study. She claims. part of the latter. She finds that definition in Enrique Dussel’s work. so different from the one we inhabit. is. 149) points out. we will be more aware of the fact that our present is informed by works and past activities produced by other humans who were not part of Western civilization. while studying Inca Garcilaso as a postcolonial critic avant la lettre—following Bill Aschcroft. where the Argentine philosopher traces the origins of what he calls the myth of modernity back to the sixteenth century and the colonization of America. of those scars and . among other things. thus refusing to acknowledge not only the Other’s knowledge. This acknowledgment will also help us represent ourselves in a less arrogant way that admits that not only our historic but also our “prehistoric” Others played an important role in our process of becoming what we are. In view of this grim genealogy. any critique of the colonial regime—even those that take place under colonial situations—can be considered postcolonial. The materiality of those marks. the concealment of any contribution America and its inhabitants may have made to humankind. I believe that the representation of human activities in the territory I am proposing— that is. somewhat. it is necessary to provide a definition of modernity that would take into account the role Latin America had in it (146).

a research agenda that focuses on the recovery of “prehistoric” and historic indigenous material activities in the land (that is. their academic practices may lose sight of some important facts. perhaps. not just as our object of study but as our equal. 1999. in order to make an impact on the representation of indigenous subjects by the educational system (through changes in the versions offered by textbooks at the primary. if we do not attempt to help change the effect of the aforementioned colonial legacies. Forgotten Territorialities mutations we see in the landscape. some interest for those who subscribe to—or view with sympathy—a subaltern studies agenda. This acknowledgment of the Other in our quotidian life (that is. As John Beverley has pointed out repeatedly (for example. It is my contention that it is important to know who the producers of knowledge are and where they come from. x. to incorporate that Amerindian into the present. a recovery of precolonial lore) may also have. an antidote against the “denial of coevalness” Johannes Fabian (1983) describes. reminds us that some of them were produced by human beings. 1). or inferior to. x). in my opinion. to make the Amerindian part of our cognitive horizon—it is a way. in other respects. secondary. the participation of the Other in our present) can be.105 Verdesio . that a group of them operated on the territory before us—that is to say. The knowledge we produce does not mean anything if we do not try to make it work in our present. And this may end up happening if the scholar loses sight of the horizon of the colonial situation whose legacies we are undergoing in the present. Moreover. Otherwise. literary studies and other humanistic disciplines have contributed to the promotion and perpetuation of domination of subaltern subjects in both Latin America and the rest of the world. This plan of action supplements. I believe. That is why we should try to make academic knowledge available to the public. A research endeavor that attempts to obtain a better knowledge of indigenous historic and “prehistoric” pasts runs the risk of becoming the task of an antiquarian. and tertiary levels) as well as by other state ideological apparatuses. also. One of them is that these scholars are part of the teaching machine that produces and reproduces subalternity. that other human beings lived here and left a legacy. ours) and us in our role of observers. To incorporate those marks into our imaginary is a way. through which we put distance between the aborigine (understood as an object of study who lives in a state of evolution different from. the Latin American subaltern studies call for solidarity with the academician’s Others (see Rabasa and Sanjinés 1994. 1993. It should also be .

the government of Guyana used Western maps—an always effective and trustworthy tool for domination—to reduce the local Amerindians’ holdings around their villages. and other territorial landmarks. That is why it is necessary not only to revise the theoretical tools we bring to the analysis of our object of study. they made a comprehensive map of the region they exploit for their livelihood. In 1982. of course. then. we will be more likely to avoid them. We must be aware. Let me finish this article with an example that illustrates how solidarity with the marginalized may come from the very site that produces the oppression of the Other or the subaltern: institutionalized Western knowledge itself. as subjects. Their legal claims are now based on that map. An organization called Local Earth Observation provided the Amerindians of the region with handheld GPS (global positioning system) units.18 This recent case shows that a solidarity with the oppressed is possible for subjects trained in Western knowledge. The Amerindians. through which they located and named more than four thousand fishing sites. looked for help. not only of the legacies we inherit from the modification of the American land by European subjects that resulted in an erasure of indigenous traces in both the territory and Western thought. It also shows that the technology that was once used against subaltern subjects can be put to work . academics. but also to permanently question our role as practitioners of a discipline that has traditionally been at the service of the dominant ideology—that is. I still believe that an agenda that purports to show some kind of solidarity with the repressed Others of the West is possible. a product of the historical events that also produced the very situations of subalternity they are studying. produced by an unusual combination of ancestral indigenous chorographic lore and up-to-date Western cartographic technology. Those processes of subject construction affect all of us. from a diachronic perspective. at the service of the values and practices of the dominant groups. hunting areas. mining and logging activities threatened the livelihood of the indigenous communities who live in the upper Mazaruni River. Interestingly. regardless of ethnic or national origin. but also—and especially—of the reservoir of representations of indigenous culture that inform the processes that produce us. who produce our research in Western languages and in the framework provided by the Western academy. they found it in their longtime enemy: Western cartography. To make things worse. Having said that. With all that information. If we are aware of the legacies of Western modernity that limit our capacity to offer our solidarity to the oppressed.106 Nepantla pointed out that scholars are.

One of them is to embrace the cause of the Amerindians beyond modern-day national and geographic boundaries. put a Western tool for domination—the academy—at the service of its traditional victims. a way of changing the foundations of those national narratives that sometimes distort or dismiss the role of indigenous peoples in the construction of modernity and national identity. it is plausible that the way in which we live and think can be seriously affected by the way in which we imagine the territory. Forgotten Territorialities in their favor—that is. Latin American colonial studies scholars should try to change the ways in which indigenous peoples are represented today by state apparatuses—mainly in the primary and secondary levels of education—and the media. xxi) would have it. Changing the way in which modern nations construct their pasts may seem a very modest goal. as in the case of the Relaciones geográficas. we will have a distorted view of the ground on which we stand and we will ignore that we are living on a palimpsest . there are some things to do. However. A recovery of both their agency in the territory and the materiality of their culture from the prehistory to the present may help change the effects of the colonial legacies that render them insignificant to national narratives. but we can find other means to show our solidarity. to put cartography at the service of chorography and not the other way around. those from the northern shore of the Río de la Plata—to devise a strategy for solidarity with indigenous peoples is. a much more difficult task. We just need to develop an agenda for the intervention of scholars of Latin American colonial studies that goes beyond the boundaries of the academy. Such a strategy would. If what characterizes a culture is. as the alliance between indigenous territorial knowledge and Western academics in Guyana shows. obviously. For those of us who work in the humanities. If we ignore the traces left by other human beings on the land we inhabit. at least. it is my contention that even for humanists who study geographic areas where indigenous cultures do not exist at present. In the case of research projects that focus on cultures that no longer exist as such—for example.107 Verdesio . Another one—probably the most easily available strategy for humanists—is to go beyond an academic agenda that dislocates oppressive epistemologies by attempting an intervention on the first stages (primary and secondary) of the educational system—both at a national and international level. a special relation with the land where it develops. as in the case of the GPS. there are many other possible ways to show solidarity with subaltern subjects. but it is. as Turner (1994. Then again. it is not easy to provide advanced technology such as GPS. As I mentioned earlier.

hundreds of years ago. for thousands of years (five.108 Nepantla that. If we are capable of using the material legacies of indigenous peoples from the past. Bolaños’s (1994) book on the Pijao Indians. The many quotidian. of course. generations of human beings that we insist on forgetting performed a series of activities of which only a few (the building of the mounds. as the playful LSU students on the mounds show. refers to two artificial elevations made by “prehistoric” human beings. contributes to the conformation of the colonial situation. The material consequences of those activities for our current habitat are not only visible but also. or simply talk to each other. usable. which. We will not be able. During those years. it is possible to attempt to make those mounds “speak” through an archaeological inquiry. we should be also capable of acknowledging their contributions to the present. Colonial situations are shaped by a process of transformation in which members of both the colonized and the colonizing cultures enter into a particular kind of human interaction. before or after my classes at Prescott Hall. but it will be possible. students perform all kinds of activities: they drink a soda. for our Occidental imaginary. that they lived there. 2. modestly—and perhaps inadvertently—we are contributing to enrich. to be more exact). I recently concluded an article (Verdesio 1999) by referring to my personal experience with territorial indigenous traces for a period of four years (that ended in May 1999. sometimes noisy activities performed by students on the mounds are in contrast to the silence those structures have kept. The name. across the parking lot called Indian Mounds. However. Notes Small fragments from Verdesio 1999 appear in this essay. to have a true conversation with the site. technologically less advanced and practicing non-Christian religions. technologically advanced and practicing Christian religion. One exception to this rule is Alvaro F. I used to walk several times a week. imposed itself on an ethnic majority. the date on which I left my position at Louisiana State University). for example) are known to us. We do not know much about the other activities they performed on that site. but it is clear that they modified the landscape. . 1994): the situation in which an ethnic minority. On their surfaces and in the surrounding area. at least. in turn. predictably. 1. colonial semiosis. to be certain of one thing: in the same space we inhabit. I am using the expression colonial situations in the sense given to it by Walter Mignolo (1989b. have lunch.

12. Unfortunately. 352). Steve Stern (1982). I will use the quotes. based on the mortuary-associated material (polished stones. 7. Bracco 1992. see the last chapter of Verdesio 2001a. especially. 5. For a more comprehensive study of the Relaciones geográficas. López Mazz and Bracco 1991. 44. forgetting about the broader project I have just described. excellent investigations like these—and others with a similar approach—do not abound in the area of Latin American colonial studies of literary or cultural studies affiliation. 9. John Murra (1980)—whose fundamental studies on economic Andean systems have contributed to a better understanding of the region—are good examples of this. 4–6. He finds support for his arguments in the pages that describe “structural coupling. Azara was a very respected Spanish naturalist whose texts are fundamental for the study of nature in the region by the end of the eighteenth century. among other objects) in the interments under study (Femenías et al. 1994b. about “white settler colonies”. 1990. to signal my awareness of the limitations of the term. 1989b. Wood’s inspiration comes from the ideas by biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela (1987. 8. and. among others. 10. Forgotten Territorialities 3. see. see Crosby 1972 and 1996 and Verdesio 2001b. For a study of some of those testimonies by travelers. see Mignolo 1990. According to Joseph Tainter (1978. In a previous report. There is a growing number of ethnohistoric works that account for indigenous cultures outside the Inca. as the 1996 media coverage of the excavations suggests (they were given a prime-time spot on an important TV station).109 Verdesio . understood as complex semiotic artifacts. in general. archaeologists had advanced the opposite hypothesis (of an egalitarian society).” 11. the rest of Kusch’s research focuses only on the recovery of indigenous thought. For a discussion of those changes. 6. 75–80) on the relationship between life forms and their environment. bones. In the case of the Andes— to mention just one of the major areas—the books by Sabine MacCormack (1991). Maya. fangs. . 14. 4. Sociologists talk. 13. and Mundy 1996. However. then. or Mexica traditions. and shell collars. Although the term prehistoric has Occidental overtones—because it suggests that the advent of writing seems to start a new historical time—it is the most widely used one in archaeology and historiography when it comes to referring to remote times in the Americas. ecologists (like Alfred Crosby [1996]) prefer the term New Europes. For a brief summary of the history of the studies on mounds found on Uruguayan territory. Karen Spalding (1984). Those excavations have interested the general public for the first time.

has talked about the need to relocate languages. 1992. . William. Ritual—understood as a communication system—according to the same author. but it might also be the consequence of imitative or transculturated behavior. Boelhower.” National Geographic. . For information about the bichaderos that have been localized and their structure. Allen. References Adorno. reveals information about the status of the dead subject (113). Through a Glass Darkly: Ethnic Semiosis in American Literature. 1990. On the imperial role of cartography as an ancillary science for the geographic gaze. Subalternity and Representation: Arguments in Cultural Theory. Bolaños. New York: Oxford University Press. Alvaro Félix. 16. Mignolo (1994a. it is not known whether the little stone pyramids were built by the Charrua or by another ethnic group. of a variety of civilizing processes. Roberto. Bill. Azara. “Nuevas perspectivas en los estudios coloniales hispanoamericanos. 1 of Ediciones del quinto centenario. 24. Madrid: Espasa Calpe. March. 1999. peoples. Carroll. see Harley 1988. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Beverley.” Revista de crítica literaria latinoamericana 14. 1987. Gareth Griffiths. 64). 1993.” Vol. 15. Félix de. Bogotá: CEREC. Ashcroft. 1988. 282.110 Nepantla 107). About the bichaderos little is known besides the use of them that documents attribute to the Charrua—for example. 1994. and not just the global spread of European/Western civilizations under the banner of progress. Rolena. 17.” 18. Against Literature. Viajes por la América meridional. 2000. civility and development. and Helen Tiffin. Barbarie y canibalismo en la retórica colonial: Los indios pijaos de Fray Pedro Simón. 1969. Bracco. Durham. NC: Duke University Press. London: Routledge. “Desarrollo cultural y evolución ambiental en la región Este del Uruguay. Renzo Pi Hugarte et al. The use of mounds for funeral functions by Amerindians of historical time may be a mere coincidence. ed. 1989. inspired by the same idea (the recognition of the contribution of subaltern groups to humankind). Montevideo: Universidad de la República. treatment of the dead in a differential way indicates the existence of hierarchies in social stratification. John. “Mapper’s Rights. and cultures in order conceive of the civilizing process as “the triumphal march of the human species. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. 142.28: 11–28. A report on these mapping activities can be found in Carroll 2000. see Femenías 1983.

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