Assembling Empire: Continuity and Change in the Long-Term Development of the Inca Empire

Author(s): Thomas Hardy

Year: 2018


This paper explores the use of assemblage theory, derived from the work of theorists such as Deleuze, Guattari, and DeLanda, as a way of overcoming inherent problems in earlier attempts at understanding sociopolitical change. Exploring the implications of this historical materialist approach involves linking processes operating at different scales of time, and tracing historical genealogies of practice and the ways they were assembled to produce political sovereignty. I argue that not only are the conditions for sovereignty necessarily in place long before the emergence of particular regimes, but that the production and maintenance of these kinds of social relations are rooted in material culture over the longue durée. Research conducted at Minaspata, a multicomponent site located in the Lucre Basin, Cuzco, Peru, in the heartland of the Inca state, suggests that the emergence of Inca imperialism in the 14th-15th century CE was the result of a complex set of social relations, materialities, cultural practices, and ontologies that were "assembled" over the previous several centuries. These assemblages were produced through the interactions between humans and the broader material world and were transformed as they were drawn together, with distinctive historical genealogies that flowed at different temporalities.

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Assembling Empire: Continuity and Change in the Long-Term Development of the Inca Empire. Thomas Hardy. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445291)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21026