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Resignification as a Way in and a Way Out: Power and the Colonial Religious Experience in Tula, Hidalgo

Author(s): Shannon Iverson

Year: 2017

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Archaeological assemblages from two early colonial religious sites at Tula, Hidalgo, are nearly indistinguishable from pre-Columbian assemblages at the same sites. These findings indicate that colonial changes in material culture were much more gradual than we expected, and driven to a surprising degree by Indigenous traditions and aesthetic prerogatives. These data led us to reconsider various models of social change that would adequately account for the observations of material culture at Spanish religious sites. Clearly, we know from documentary sources that the so-called colonial encounter was not an equal exchange of ideas. However, models of top-down power alone could not account for the data in Tula. Conversely, models that posited cultural continuity—an Indigenous "core" with a Spanish colonial "veneer"—seemed inadequate to account for genuine Indigenous relationships with the Church. This paper explores the legacies and problems of several models, including acculturation and syncretism, before positing Judith Butler’s concept of resignification as an appropriate model of colonial power and religious change.

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Resignification as a Way in and a Way Out: Power and the Colonial Religious Experience in Tula, Hidalgo. Shannon Iverson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431381)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16102

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