Unpacking the Dishes: The Agency of (mis)Translation in the Hybrid Ceramics of Seventeenth-Century New Mexico

Author(s): Klinton Burgio-Ericson

Year: 2019


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

Equally of New Spain and the Pueblo Indian world, seventeenth-century New Mexico presents a fraught social context where diverse materials and imagery became entangled through the creativity of Native artists. Archaeological remnants testify to ceramics’ importance in these exchanges, including combinations of Euro-American forms with Indigenous materials, techniques, and iconography. Hopi women were among the finest of these artists, producing what archaeologists call "San Bernardo" wares, after a local Spanish mission. They drew upon Mexican majolica forms and motifs, which they reconfigured through their own traditions and iconography. Artists transformed Spanish imagery into religiously significant symbols pertaining to the Pueblo world, enacting a strategy of (mis)translation and artistic agency, which simultaneously visualized and concealed new meanings in plain sight. Based on primary research of an unpublished collection of San Bernardo hybrid ceramics from the ancestral Zuni pueblo of Hawikku, this study demonstrates the persistence of Pueblo imagery and worldviews, but also agency that artists exerted through (mis)translation to evade Spanish recognition and control. Drawing on material culture theory, critical translation studies, and art historical iconography, this essay applies a discursive model to the study of these ceramics and the creative expressions of their painted motifs.

Cite this Record

Unpacking the Dishes: The Agency of (mis)Translation in the Hybrid Ceramics of Seventeenth-Century New Mexico. Klinton Burgio-Ericson. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450149)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.365; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -93.428; max lat: 41.902 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25436