Inka Kallawayas: Cuisine, identity and status negotiations in the eastern imperial fringes, a talk by Sonia Alconini (University of Virginia) Pre-Columbian Archaeology Seminar


Thursday, April 28, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Tozzer 203, or via Zoom


ABSTRACT:     The Inka province of Kallawaya sat to the east of the Titicaca basin. Their residents, the Kallawayas were valued traveling shamans, traders and herbal healers of the Tawantinsuyu. Based on shared cultural practices and language, they served as intermediaries with a myriad of tropical tribes broadly defined as Chunchos. Located along an ancient trading route that connected the Kallawaya territory with the eastern tropics was the Inka center of Kaata Pata. It was conceived as the mountain’s heart. Excavations in this center have revealed its sociopolitical importance, as lavish feasting events were recursively celebrated. Such commensal celebrations, targeted to elite segments in the region, comprised conspicuous consumption of camelid meal and chicha corn beer served in elaborate vessels in the polychrome Inka Taraco Polychrome and Urcosuyo Polychrome styles. Using faunal data, archaeobotany, ethnohistory and stylistic ceramic analyses, this presentation will explore Inka cuisine and identity construction, and the ways in which indigenous elite segments attained status and power in the eastern imperial fringes.  It will also explore the bodily geopolitics of Inka imperial appropriation.

BIO:     Dr. Sonia Alconini (David A. Harrison III Professor of Archaeology) teaches in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Virginia. Originally from Bolivia, she has conducted archaeological research in different parts of the Andean region and the eastern tropical regions. Multidisciplinary in nature, her research focuses on the nature of frontier interaction, Inka imperialism, and local agency. She has published several articles and books in English and Spanish, including the Oxford Handbook of the Incas (University of Oxford Press, 2018 co-edited with Alan Covey), Southeastern Inka Frontiers: Boundaries and Interaction (University of Florida Press, 2016), and Entre la Vertiente Tropical y los Valles: Sociedades Regionales e Interacción Prehispánicas en los Andes Centro-Sur (Plural Editorial, 2016). Her current research project is in the Inka center of Samaipata (Santa Cruz-Bolivia).


Tozzer Anthropology Building, Room 203

21 Divinity Avenue


or Online via Zoom (click here to Join on April 28th at Noon EDT)

You do not need to register for this seminar