10858 - Huacas as Thoughtful Social Agents in the Manuscript of Huarochirí

In this paper I present a case in which parts of the landscape not only act on humans but are ascribed the mental perspectives of humans. The case comes from the Manuscript of Huarochirí, a sixteenth century text considered by scholars to be the only Quechua text that compiles the voices of native speakers during colonial times. What is more, the narrative is focused on the religious relationship that Quechua speakers had with the land. This was because the manuscript was compiled with the purpose of a campaign to extirpate idolatrous practices from the region of Huarochirí. I focus my analysis on the descriptions of huacas , sacred shrines which can be parts of the landscape such as mountains, stones, rivers, lakes, and trees. In the manuscript, these places/things are actors who tell human beings how to treat them. They have the authority to facilitate or impede humans’ interchange of goods with them or other humans. The representation of huacas in the Huarochirí manuscript does not portray deities as beings separate from quotidian human life, but rather as central actors in a world that functions and is organized around them. This presentation examines the network of social relationships that huacas facilitate and enact among humans and animals. The narration of the Manuscript of Huarochirí enables a study of non-human agency with its locus not in effects on humans, but rather in a representation of non-human perspectives on humans. I argue that the strength of this representation in the manuscript characterizes the particularity of the social context that opens life in the Andes to the agency of the landscape.

Keywords: Quechua, religion, Andes, nonhuman agency, material culture

Author: Serna, Angelica (University of Michigan, Dept. of Romance Languages & Literatures, Ud States of Am / USA)


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