tDAR Logo tDAR digital antiquity

Archaeological Patrimony, Spirituality, and the Construction of a New Indigenous Class in Highland Bolivia

Author(s): Isabel Scarborough

Year: 2017

» Downloads & Basic Metadata


The ancient citadel and urban center of Tiwanaku (c. AD 300–1100) in Bolivia’s highland plateau is a notable archaeological site that has been deployed in nation-building discourses by both Bolivia’s white minority and its indigenous majority since the inception of this small Andean republic. With the approaching bicentennial of the country’s independence from Spain, Tiwanaku has become the symbolic center from which a new generation of upwardly mobile indigenous business and political leaders are invoking this culture’s iconography and features to embrace a new take on Andean cosmovision. These religious beliefs are loosely put together from contemporary Andean religious practices, invented traditions, and archaeological publications, and represent the bricks and mortar for this new indigenous class. The disciples of this new faith are quick to critique the sanitized and romantic visions of Tiwanaku’s past that endeavored to mediate cultural and racial disparities. However, since this spirituality is inextricably linked to the indigenous nationalism of Evo Morales’ administration, it remains to be seen whether this new iteration of Andean religion will provide a platform for a new indigeneity, or whether it will fade into oblivion with the Bolivian people’s disenchantment with Morales near the end of his tenure.

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Cite this Record

Archaeological Patrimony, Spirituality, and the Construction of a New Indigenous Class in Highland Bolivia. Isabel Scarborough. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431725)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15657

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