From Mud to Brick, or the Transformative Possibilities of Assembling Architecture

Author(s): Estefanía Vidal-Montero

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

This paper considers the often-overlooked practice of building, in order to rethink the role of architecture as a mere container of sociality, a proxy for domestic stability or the precondition of social complexity. By focusing on the building of a wall in the site of Ramaditas, a 2,000-year-old site in the Atacama Desert, this work seeks to question traditional assumptions about the origins of settled life by interrogating the taxonomies and traditional categorizations that have been mobilized to understand the "Neolithic" process. Rather than approaching this phenomenon as a universal event that involved the revolutionary shift in modes of production, the transformation of nature into culture, or the domestication of landscapes, I offer a version that focuses on the architectural assembling of a mudbrick wall, rendering its construction as a transformative action that signals how things or artifacts are always in a state of becoming and always open to new interventions. I argue that by paying attention to the material transformation of mud—and the social practices set in motion by this act—we may arrive at a more capacious understanding of architecture and the communities involved in its production.

Cite this Record

From Mud to Brick, or the Transformative Possibilities of Assembling Architecture. Estefanía Vidal-Montero. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450000)

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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): 26165