Colonialism, architecture, domestic space, and the creation of subjects in the Chimú Empire

by Randy Hahn

Institution: McGill University
Department: Department of Anthropology
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Keywords: Anthropology - Anthropology Archaeology
Record ID: 2060114
Full text PDF: http://digitool.library.mcgill.ca/thesisfile130391.pdf


This dissertation examines how people incorporated into the Chimú Empire (AD 900-1470), a pre-Columbian polity of coastal Peru, became colonial subjects as well as their contributions to the maintenance and reproduction of the empire. Based on archaeological research at the site of Huasi Huaman, a settlement in the Jequetepeque Valley which was conquered by the Chimú Empire in the early 14th century, I argue that the political and economic decentralization that characterized the region before the conquest continued into the Chimú Period and influenced local responses to colonial rule. Chimú authority was not applied uniformly across the region as non-elite settlements retained relative autonomy as long as Chimú interests were being met. At the same time, local leaders took advantage of the conquest to promote their own ideologies and may have found new opportunities for political advancement by serving as intermediaries between their followers and the Chimú. My research shows the complexity of local responses to colonial rule and that not all subjugated peoples were equally incorporated into colonial society.The research involved the mapping of architecture, surface collection, and the excavation of both ceremonial and domestic architecture to elucidate how architecture framed processes of subjectification. I found that during the Jequetepeque Valley's Lambayeque Period (AD 1100-1320), Huasi Huaman was occupied by a small population living in wattle and daub houses who built multiple platforms used in a range of activities such as feasting, craft production, and penning camelids. The diversity in form and function shows that multiple lineages or social groups were contributing to the creation of architectural spaces that helped define hierarchical social relationships. Following the Chimú conquest of the Jequetepeque Valley in the early 14th century, there is a new emphasis on monumental architecture containing secluded interior spaces. Based on the new emphasis on restricted space, I argue the Chimú incursion into the Jequetepeque Valley resulted in the introduction of new forms of ceremonial architecture at the site of Huasi Huaman. However, this new form of architecture was not the adoption of foreign Chimú symbols nor the appropriation of those of the regional Lambayeque elite, both groups to which the inhabitants of Huasi Huaman drew little affiliation. Instead, local leaders at Huasi Huaman created new forms of architecture to promote their own ideology at the expense of the non-elite inhabitants of the site who may have been able to contribute less to local ritual practices. The relative autonomy of local leaders and the lack of evidence for non-elites interacting directly with the Chimú shows the political and economic plurality of the region that persisted alongside the imposition of colonialism. Cette dissertation examine la manière dont les gens intégrés à l'Empire Chimú (900-1470 Ap. J.C.), une entité politique précolombienne de la côte Péruvienne, sont devenus des sujets coloniaux ainsi que leurs…