Estefanía Vidal Montero

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9564

Approve Date

October 11, 2017

Project Title

Vidal Montero, Estefania P., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Transformative Architectures: An Archaeology of Building Practices in the Atacama Desert during the Formative Period,' supervised by Dr. Francois Richard

Preliminary abstract: This project explores the process of village formation through a detailed investigation of building practices in the valley of Guatacondo, located in the hyper-arid core of the Atacama Desert. Centering specifically on the construction of architectural spaces, it seeks to question traditional assumptions about the origins of settled life by interrogating the relationship between permanent architecture, sedentism, the development of agriculture, and social complexity. Rather than approaching this phenomenon as a universal process that involved the revolutionary shift from economies of mobile groups of hunters and gatherers to settled communities of farmers, it offers another way for understanding this process by reconsidering the social importance of an often taken-for-granted and mundane task: building. The proposed research uses data from different sites distributed along the Guatacondo Valley following a multi-scalar approach that combines mudbrick, phytolith and architectural analyses. By approaching architecture as a transformative practice, this project will trace networks of human and technological entanglements to provide insights into everyday lives, ordinary practices, and spatial histories in order to discern the gradual emergence of ‘places’, understood as sites that gather people and things through time and space, and that are open for continuous interventions. The data generated by this research will contribute to ongoing discussions about the origins of village life in the Old World and the Americas, and to current conversations about the importance of material technologies in the emergent character of social life.