‘Place of Strong Men’

Skeletal trauma and the (re)construction of Chachapoya identity

Authored by: Kenneth C. Nystrom , J. Maria Toyne

The Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Human Conflict

Print publication date:  November  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415842198
eBook ISBN: 9781315883366
Adobe ISBN: 9781134677979


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An individual or group social identity is created through the complex interplay between internally derived and externally applied definitions (Jenkins 2003). The process of internal definition involves the self-ascription by the actors and can manifest individually or collectively. While this process may initially be internal, it is a process that can draw upon an external social framework and is contingent upon the existence of an audience. The process in which the other is created and contrasted with the us necessarily calls upon social interaction. This transaction may range from consensual, in which the internal and external definition are isomorphic (or nearly so), to confrontational, in which the external definition may have a significant effect on the social experience of the categorized (Jenkins 2003; Stein 2002). In this chapter we explore the reconstructed identity ofthe Chachapoya as fierce warriors, a name and characterization that have come to be applied to a group of people that inhabited a region in northern Peru between ad 1000 until the early Colonial period (after ad 1532). This identity has largely been based on textual sources and to some degree archaeological data, and is therefore predominantly a product of forces external to the region. The current research relies upon the analysis of skeletal trauma as the prevalence and distribution can serve as markers of shared collective experiences and therefore provides another perspective of the role of violence in this constructed identity.

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