How to Invent Your Past. Cultural Appropriation or Adoption of Orphan Cultural Identity?

Author(s): Elizabeth Currie; Diego Quiroga

Year: 2018


In January 2017, members of the indigenous Salasaca community of the central sierra region of Ecuador discovered a cache of pre-Colombian pottery during ditch construction work which passed through a site of ritual significance. The government organisation responsible for managing antiquities removed the artefacts, promising that archaeological investigations would be carried out in due course. They never were.

The cache of artefacts was a strange mixture of authentic ceramic figurines and vessels of a wide geographical provenience, none of which were from the Salasaca area. In the absence of formal excavations, it is unclear how they were deposited there in the first place.

The local community responded enthusiastically, seeing the artefacts as an important connection with their lost ancestral past. Some believed they were mitmakuna – peoples translocated by Inca conquerors in the 15th century from an alternative geographic location to replace rebellious tribes recently conquered. They had some oral traditions, but no ancestral connection with the land they had been brought to, suggesting this cache of artefacts filled a lacuna in their sense of cultural identity.

This paper discusses the importance of archaeology and material cultural in the construction of collective cultural identity and ancestral legitimacy.

Cite this Record

How to Invent Your Past. Cultural Appropriation or Adoption of Orphan Cultural Identity?. Elizabeth Currie, Diego Quiroga. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443202)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -82.441; min lat: -56.17 ; max long: -64.863; max lat: 16.636 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 18842