Alicia Gorman

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Santa Barbara, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9597

Approve Date

April 13, 2018

Project Title

Gorman, Alicia J., U. of California, Santa Barbara, CA - To aid research on 'Religion and Politics from a Household Perspective on the South Coast of Peru,' supervised by Dr. Katharina Schreiber

Preliminary abstract: This study investigates the relationship between religion and politics in household contexts at a ceremonial center on the south coast of Peru. I apply a relational perspective that seeks to test the connections between religious, political, and economic power. Archaeologists have historically considered religion as either performing an integrative function (especially in societies with little social differentiation) or as a means of justifying and naturalizing extant inequalities. In both cases, religion is seen as epiphenomenal to social structure. I join recent scholarship in considering religion as a force that, through human agents, can actively shape social structure. I consider these issues at the site of Cerro Tortolita, a site that has both large-scale ceremonial architecture, specifically a U-shaped platform mound surrounding a plaza, as well as a large residential area of more modest houses (the Primary Residential Zone). Previous excavations on the U-shaped platform mound found evidence for habitation debris, ritual activity, and feasting occurring in exclusive, restricted-access spaces, suggesting the mound was the residence of an elite with a role in public ritual. However, I plan to excavate within the Primary Residential Zone to test the degree and nature of social differentiation at the site, specifically the entanglements of religious authority with potential political and economic inequalities. By excavating within the Primary Residential Zone this study will also contribute to research focusing on non-elite narratives. This project joins studies that problematize characterizations of societies as composed of dichotomous elites and commoners, and challenge the assumption that commoners were passive recipients of a social structure imposed upon them by an elite.