Memory, Identity, and the Role of Revival: Tracing Changes in Material Culture of the Ica Society on the Peruvian South Coast (c. 1000–1600 CE)

Morrisset, Sara 

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The phenomenon of artistic revivals can provide unique insight into the relationship between social memory, identity negotiation, and cultural notions of time. Revivals are often discussed in the context of European and Euro-American cultures from the early Modern Period to the present, but few have explored patterns of revival in the ancient Americas. Based on excavations in the lower Ica Valley on the Peruvian south coast, this dissertation shows how the Ica society engaged in the repeated practice of artistic revivals characterized by the resurgence of styles and designs from their ancestral past. These revivals seem to be linked across time to periods of widespread socio-political change that impacted the Ica Valley, such as the disintegration of the expansionist Wari polity (c. 1000 CE) and the collapse of the Inca Empire (c. 1532 CE). Changes in Ica material culture are analysed through multiple generations over a 600-year time span, allowing for the investigation of the relationships between social memory, identity negotiation, and the role of revival. My work demonstrates that the analysis of artistic revivals in the ancient Americas must take into account indigenous ontologies and different cultural notions of time. Ica revivals reflect a circulatory view of time and space whereby calling on the past can result in the realization of a desired present or future. The analysis of these revivals also contributes to recent discussions of the dynamics of cultural encounters as well as the multiplicity of indigenous reactions to imperial rule and societal collapse. Ultimately, my research illustrates the active role material culture and social memory play in the formation and negotiation of identity through the exploration of revival patterns found in the Ica Valley.

DeMarrais, Elizabeth
Beresford-Jones, David
Memory Studies, Identity Negotiation, Ica, Ontology, Andean Archaeology, Revivals, Material Culture, Ica Valley, Peruvian South Coast, Inca Empire, Wari, Pachacamac
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge
National Geographic Early Career Grant # EC-395R-18, Gates Cambridge Scholarship, University of Cambridge Fieldwork Fund Award, Anthony Wilkins Trust Award