Proyecto Maucallacta

The teleoscopic polity

Springer Press announces the publication of a new book, The Teleoscopic Polity: Andean Patriarchy and Materiality, by Tom D. Dillehay and an international team of colleagues. The tome is focused on indigenous proto-state or polity formation in the early Spanish period in the south-central Andes of Chile and on the socio-cultural conditions that shaped a specific type of material record. The volume provides an up-to-date and in-depth summary and analysis of the political practices of the Araucanians or Mapuche and adjacent regions. This synthesis draws upon the empirical record documented in original research, as well as a critical examination of previous studies. By applying both archaeological and ethnohistorical approaches, the latter including ethnography, this book distinguishes itself from many other studies that explore the early colonial period of South America.~Archaeological and traditional-historical narratives of the pre-European past are considered in their own terms and for the extent to which they can be integrated in order to provide a more rounded and realistic understanding than otherwise of the origins and courses of ecological, economic, social and political changes in this region of the Andes from late pre-Hispanic times, through the contact period and up to Chileís independence from Spain (ca. AD 1450-1810). Both the approach and the results are discussed in the light of similar situations elsewhere.

Throughout its treatment, the volume continually comes back to two central questions: (1) how did the varied practices, institutions, and worldviews of the Mapucheís ancient communities emerge as a historical process that successfully resisted the Spanish empire for more than 250 years, and (2) how were these communities reproduced and transformed in the face of ongoing culture contact and of a changing social landscape during the early Colonial period? These questions are considered in light of contemporary theoretical concepts regarding practice, landscape, environment, social organization, materiality, political obligation, community, and what the author conceptually refers to as a teleoscopic polity with a composite political formation. The volume argues that the Araucanian polity was teleoscopic, that is, it built up or extended from the lowest patrilineal level to a supra-regional level centered around patriotism and patriarchy. Its organizational structure was composite and made up of four different yet complementary territorial domains.
The book also addresses our understanding of the relationship between kinship, social structure and political organization and how the material record, especially large-scale ceremonial monuments and spaces, represents this relationship. Ceremonial places and spaces were living, interactive entities that, like people, had rights and duties within the socio-political structure of the society. During late pre-Hispanic times, ceremonial monuments, ceramics and other materials were aesthetically elaborate, but during the early Colonial years of conflict, they were deliberately transformed into a simple or unostentacious record, which is unusual for a polity-level of society. The gaps or disconcordances between what this record represents archaeologically and what it was meant to embody and reflect are studied.

Several interdisciplinary specialists contribute to the volume, including José Manuel Zavala C., José Saavedra, Ana M. Abarzúa, Alia G. Pinchicura, Leonora Jarpa, Alejandra Martel-Cea, Mieke Sterken, Rodrigo Vega, Mario Pino Q., Claudia Silva Díaz, J. Paige Silcox, Carlos Ocampo E., Renée M. Bonzani, Maria Eugenia Solari, José Iriarte and Oscar Seguel.