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Why Pilgrimage? The Ethnography and Archaeology of Journeys to the Center

Author(s): Alan Sandstrom

Year: 2015

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Summary

Pilgrimage is a "dynamic concrete isolate" found throughout the world at all levels of socio-cultural integration. Pilgrimage involves a journey to a significant geographic location and a return to the place of origin. Pilgrimage shades into tourism and a pilgrim's destination may range from the site of a miraculous appearance of a deity to Graceland. In Mesoamerica, pilgrimage has become a major focus of archaeological research. Sites with ritual associations and little evidence of habitation are routinely interpreted as pilgrimage centers. Pilgrimage and the meanings attached to it are also a recent focus of our own ethnographic research among Nahua people of the Huasteca. Contemporary indigenous and as well as non-indigenous participants continue the ancient pilgrimage tradition throughout Mesoamerica. We see pilgrimage as a means for people to escape the confines of a rigid social structure, introduce innovation into the system, and reset social relations without threatening the overall system. Pilgrimage has the potential to allow people to escape a social straitjacket while at the same time demonstrating commitment to cultural values embodied in a significant site. We dedicate this presentation to the ethnographic researches of Frannie Berdan, and especially her work among Nahuas in the Sierra Norte de Puebla.

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Why Pilgrimage? The Ethnography and Archaeology of Journeys to the Center. Alan Sandstrom. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395701)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Mesoamerica


Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America