NIELSEN Axel Emil
capítulos de libros
Ritual as interaction with non-humans: Pre-Hispanic mountain pass shrines in the Southern Andes
AXEL E. NIELSEN; CARLOS I. ANGIORAMA; FLORENCIA AVILA
Rituals of the Past. Prehispanic and Colonial Case Studies in Andean Archaeology
University of Colorado Press
Lugar: Boulder; Año: 2017; p. 241 - 266
A key theoretical debate in archaeology and other social sciences today concerns the notion that, in practice, agency is a faculty that can be displayed by non-human beings which, depending on worldview and context, may include anything from ghosts to places or artifacts (Gell 1998; Knappett and Malafouris 2008; Latour 2005; Walker 2009). Since agency --or the various capacities encompassed by this concept-- is a fundamental quality on which taxonomies of being are based, knowing how it is attributed to various entities in different cultures is central to understanding the cosmologies involved and, more specifically, their underlying ontologies. The far-reaching implications of this debate has led some scholars to speak of an "ontological turn" in social theory (Alberti and Marshall 2011; Henare et al. 2007; Olsen 2010).The current interest in non-human agencies has a lot in common with what is usually encompassed under the category of religion, particularly if we embrace Robin Horton´s (1960:212) definition of this concept as ?an extension of social relationships beyond the confines of purely human society?, to include ?personified? non-humans that have an influence on people´s lives and fate. Building on this idea, and on the tradition that conceives of ritual as the behavioral aspect of religion, we can tentatively define ritual as social action that addresses (significant) non-human agents. Thus conceived, rites and the archaeological contexts created by them afford an important opportunity for learning about the non-humans that inhabited the world of past peoples. After all, pragmatism and relationality indicate that spirits --like any other social entity, i.e., kin, enemies, pets, or gods-- become what they are in their interactions, in this case with people. Furthermore, by construing the subject matter of religion and ritual as one among other forms of social interaction and relationship--instead of a metaphysical construct such as "the sacred" (Eliade 1958) or reified "society" (Durkheim 1912 )--this view makes it possible to take advantage of valuable ideas originally developed to account for non-religious phenomena, such as communication or exchange.Focusing on the archaeology of mountain passes of the Southern Andes as an example, this paper discusses the potential of these ideas for exploring the kinds of beings that inhabited the world of past peoples. The first part characterizes the rituals presently conducted on mountain passes of the southern Andes, highlighting the religious importance of these places for travelers. The second part presents other archaeological evidences documented on mountain passes across the area, putting emphasis on offering pits, ?sepulchers? (Nielsen 1997), or ?artificial hollows? (Pimentel 2009). Interpreting these sites as shrines --places where non-humans are addressed?the third section discusses their possible meanings and the agencies they may have engaged.