Aragami Gustavo Verdesio gustavoverdesio on Pinterest tustavo Remember me on this computer. Moreover, in the archaeological sites excavated in the area— which covers approximately square meters—researchers have found abundant proof of the existence of stone and bone tools. Through a Glass Darkly: In the gustaov zone, in the territory of modern-day Bolivia, this kind of agriculture began circa three thousand years ago but was abandoned for several centuries around a. Fraker Conference Interdisciplinary Workshops.
|Published (Last):||23 November 2010|
|PDF File Size:||11.2 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||18.46 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
They represent a land that appears to these authors as pristine and untouched by what the West has called civilization. If one were to believe this corpus of texts about lands that were at that time unknown to European subjects, those lands showed no evidence of significant traces of human labor. In my courses about indigenous societies from the past I usually encounter the following situation: a vast majority actually, almost the totality of students who, when asked about the way in which they imagine the pre-contact land of what today is the territory of the United States of America, respond with a depiction of a landscape that contains idyllic images of woods, rivers, and prairies that seem to be, in their different versions, uninhabited.
In other words, they often present answers that offer a portrayal of the Americas as a wild territory untouched by human hand. It is only after several questions that lead them to admit the obvious that is, that the lands were populated by a wide variety of human societies and cultures that they begin to realize how pervasive the initial views we inherited from the explorers of the European expansion era still are. Why is it, then, that the myth that represents the Americas as a blank page where European settlers are free to leave their imprint still survives in the collective unconscious of Western culture?
Why this inertia of collective memory that privileges only one of the different images of the past? Maybe if we try to view this state of affairs as the result of a combination of factors we could understand it a little better.
This is not a conflict-free matter. On the contrary, there are several contending versions from different camps. The main disagreement can be identified as the one that confronts, on the one hand, several Amerindian nations and, on the other, scholars who believe that Western disciplines can reveal the secrets of the distant past. In general, the latter can be found in the ranks of archaeologists and biological anthro- pologists. Many an indigenous group claims to know where they come from and when they came to the Americas.
In their oral traditions, we learn about stories of origins that present us with peoples who believe that they have occupied the territory of the Americas since time immemorial — since the beginning of time Zimmerman, These versions of the origins of the different indigenous groups are contested by Western scholars who have a completely different perspective on this issue.
In their opinion, and in spite of the differences among them that we will discuss later, Amerindians arrived in the Americas as immigrants from Asia. It should be pointed out that although Western scholars have a tendency to view indigenous oral histories as nonscientific, the stories passed from generation to genera- tion by Amerindians are a useful tool to reconstruct the past — even the very distant past.
He makes a very convincing case about the time depth of some indigenous stories about their origins. He even goes as far as to say that some Arikara origin accounts can go as far back as describing the Arctic Circle and Beringia as the place where everything started for them —6. After a careful analysis of the possibility that Amerindians had arrived in the Indies by sea, he concludes: The argument that I have pursued leads me to a great conjecture, that the new world that we call the Indies is not completely divided and separated from the other world.
And, to state my opinion, I came to the conclusion some time ago that one part of the earth and the other must join and continue, or at least that they come very close. To the Mapping the Pre-Columbian Americas 37 present day, at least, there is no certainty that things are otherwise, for toward the Arctic or North Pole the whole longitude of the earth has not been discovered and there are many who affirm that above Florida the land runs very far in northerly direction, which they say reaches the Scythian or German Sea.
Others add that a ship has sailed there and state that the sailors had seen the coast of Newfoundland running almost to the ends of Europe. Above Cape Mendocino in the Southern Sea no one knows how far the land extends on the other side of the Strait of Magellan.
Therefore there is no reason or experience to contradict my conjecture or opinion that the whole earth must join and connect somewhere or at least that the parts are very close. If this were true, as indeed it appears to me to be, there is an easy answer for the difficult problem that we pro- pounded, how the first dwellers in the Indies crossed over to them, for then we would have to say that they crossed not by sailing on the sea but by walking on land.
The template of said hypothesis goes like this: in the Wisconsin period the latest glacier advance of the Ice Age glaciers retained so much water that the level of the sea descended dramatically, transforming the Bering Strait into dry land that connected Siberia and Alaska.
This land, called Beringia by scholars, allowed the passage of human beings from Asia there is no agreement, however, about the exact region or regions of the continent they came from to North America, from where they later moved south, thereby occupying the rest of the continent. This hypothesis has it that the migratory groups of human beings entered the continent through the ice-free corridors that opened during the short periods of de-icing.
And of course, some elaborate conjectures have been advanced about the different possible routes that those human travelers followed. The new version of the story is based on recent geological investigations that point to different climate changes, on disagreement about dates of deglaciation, on newly discovered patterns of settlement in South America, and many other factors.
In South America, for example, the archaeological record is clear about the survival of the megafauna of the Pleistocene well into the early Holocene — something than cannot be said about North America, where most of the megafauna had already disap- peared by that time.
The food, so the story goes, was mostly taken from big animals such as mammoths and other giants known as part of the megafauna of the Pleistocene. Therefore, the big animals that fed them for millennia vanished from the face of the earth. This culture would have been the one that populated the rest of the Americas. There are many problems with the application of this narrative to the vast territory south of what today is the USA. One of them is, as we said, that those big beasts survived into the Holocene in South America.
Another element to take into account is that the Ice Age did not end between 11, and 10, BF in South America, but sometime between 14, and 12, BP. This relatively new evidence puts into question the simplicity and most of all the appeal of the Clovis theory that, in its basic form, states that the hunters of megafauna were the first society in the Americas and that later they populated different parts of the continent for a relatively long period of time.
As a consequence, the population of South America, according to this theory, must have been a much later development. Unfortunately for its proponents, archaeological evidence shows that some radiocarbon dates of South American archaeological sites are much older 12, BP, in the most conservative estimates than the ones identi- fied as Clovis, which are only 11, years old — and very short-lived, because the most recent dates for Clovis place the end of that culture at around 10, BP.
Some have even said that the Clovis fluted point is the first manifestation of American understood as pertaining to the US ingenuity, which also gave us Coca-Cola and baseball caps.
Mapping the Pre-Columbian Americas 39 The way in which one represents the very different indigenous pasts is no small part of the reconstruction of the past Western society has been producing for several centuries now.
In this sense, the Clovis case is a very pedagogical introduction to the contradictions present-day scholars incur when trying to write a past that favors the cause of their own culture.
For example, it is clear that the image of the first Amer- indians as predators who exterminated the megafauna, and as nomads who had no abode, are not the ones preferred in the West to represent civilization. On the other hand, Clovis defenders seem to be interested in presenting a sce- nario where the inventors of the fluted point appear as the pioneers who led the migration from Asia. Therefore, one could even speculate further and say that they could be seen as leaders of a prehistoric expansion that foretells the conquest of the West undertaken thousands of years later by North American pioneers.
It was they who populated all there is to populate in the Western hemisphere. In this way, US- based scholars make a nationalist claim in the name of science — or if you prefer, dis- guised as science — in order to appropriate, once again, the territories located south of the Rio Bravo or Rio Grande, depending on your perspective and geopolitical situ- ation of enunciation. In addition to the already complex and diverse panorama of ancient times we are starting to get glimpses of the wide array of peoples and cultures that flourished south of the territory of what today is the USA.
If an ideal observer could travel through time and space at will she would see hunter-gatherers coexisting with settlements of early agriculturalists, or fishers and hunters living side by side with state-like organized societies.
Let us now take a look at just a handful of societies that existed in the past, and some that exist in the present, to get an idea of the enormous diversity and the wealth of human variety existent in the Americas. Let us start with the most vilified ones: ancient hunter-gatherers. These indigenous peoples are the ones who get the worst press: they are represented as simple, primi- tive, and as not very careful with the environment.
The representation has it that those nomads of the past were constantly struggling against the elements, defending themselves from a hostile environment that did not offer them enough resources in the way of food and shelter to have a decent, less difficult life. It follows from this 40 Gustavo Verdesio model that these peoples spent most of their time trying to get food and shelter, which is tantamount to saying that they were too busy to dedicate time and energy to undertake activities unrelated to the production and reproduction of life — that is, activities without relation to subsistence patterns.
From this academic perspective, it is with the practice of agriculture that certain activities not related to subsistence get better chances to take place.
However, several years ago, the work by scholars like Jon Gibson and Joe Saunders, who focused on the archaic mounds of the US Southeast, started to change this way of viewing things. These scholars came to the conclusion that the earthworks known as Indian mounds human-made earthen elevations located in the US Southeast Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida, and other locations were the work of peoples without agriculture.
These mounds were built, in some cases, 5, years ago Watson Brake, extensively studied by Saunders, is a case in point , and they were the product of societies without agriculture. This was something unexpected, to say the least, because archaeologists had trouble picturing nonagricultural societies staying at a place for long periods of time and with free time to construct massive works that required, without a doubt, a significant organization of the community as a whole — the building of the mounds requires great quantities of earth and, therefore, a high number of human labor hours.
Thus, a new model started to emerge: it was possible to view these societies the mound builders of the archaic period as capable of producing monumental collective works without having developed agriculture first. It is societies like the one known as Poverty Point that prompted some scholars to review the old evolutionary model. This complex is a very big site located in northeastern Louisiana, which contains a number of mounds and embankments.
The historical period and culture that bear its name cover the years 3, to 3, BP and it extends over a large area of the lower Mississippi valley from a point near the conjunction of the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
The artifacts that characterize this culture are made of rocks not available locally, which means their makers must have had to import them.
Trade, then, must have been very important for the people who built the earthworks. The series of questions that places like Poverty Point posed were very difficult to understand for people working on the old paradigm.
Those questions include, accord- ing to Jon Gibson: How did the conditions for large-scale construction appear at Poverty Point while everyone else in America north of Mexico was still following a simpler way of life? Was Poverty Point one of the first communities to rise above its contemporaries to start the long journey toward becoming a truly complex society?
If Poverty Point did represent the awakening of complex society in the United States, how and why did it develop? Was it created by immigrants bearing maize and a new religion from somewhere in Mexico? Was it developed by local peoples who had been stimulated by ideas from Mexico? Did it arise by itself without any foreign influences?
Did it come about without agriculture? Could hunting and gathering have sustained the society and its impressive works? As I mentioned earlier, the prevailing idea at that time was that complex societies developed thanks to agriculture. However, no plant remains have ever been found at the site. The prejudice in favor of agriculture as a trigger of social complexity is such that even Gibson is very cautious when he talks about the food production and con- sumption at the site: it was impossible to tell if Poverty Point people had farmed, or if they had made a living some other way, such as by intensively gathering native wild plants or by hunting and gathering along the especially bountiful narrow environmental seams where uplands joined the Mississippi floodplain.
We still do not have much information about foods eaten by Poverty Point peoples, but we have enough to be sure about one thing. Poverty Point peoples were not corn farmers. They were hunter-gatherers. We are only begin- ning to find out what they ate. We have more information about meat than plants, because bones are more resistant to decay through time and are more easily recovered by standard excavation methods.
If we look at the questions posed by Gibson himself, we will see, between the lines, some of the anxieties that haunt archaeologists even today. One of them is the relationship of agriculture to social complexity, as we have already seen. Yet an even more important one is present throughout the whole series of questions: the one that has complexity itself, as a concept, at its center.
That is, I believe, one of the more serious problems faced today by those of us concerned with the past of indigenous peoples. In this context that of the disciplines produced by Western knowledge apparatuses and institutions , complex is better or more desirable than simple.
In this context, some scholars who try to vindicate indigenous cultures from the past or the present are caught in the trap of trying to prove that Amerindians are not as simple as portrayed by Western scholarship and popular beliefs while at the same time are reaffirming the very same structures that postulate the inferiority of indigenous peoples in comparison with Western culture.
For this reason, one of the first things that a young team of archaeologists did in was to show the academic community, first, and the Uruguayan general public, later, that there was a culture or a series of cultures never mentioned by history textbooks that were much more socially complex than they ever imagined. That new way included ideas similar to those advanced by Gibson, owing to a series of factors, of which I will only mention two: first, the fact that the cultures studied occupied the Uruguayan territory during, among other epochs, the archaic period some are said to go as far back as 5, BP ; second, because the archaeological evidence they encountered presented characteristics similar to those of hunter-gatherer societies that built mounds.
Their work, then, presented the Uruguayan public opinion with a picture that was completely different from the predominant one. And yet this was done within the framework provided by the logocentric pairs that tell us that complex is better than simple.
However, where this defense of complexity gets even worse is in the work produced about regions populated by the most prestigious Amerindian societies: those located in the Andes and Mesoamerica. And beyond academic production, the masses, whether they know it or not, are also under the spell of a cluster of notions associated to com- plexity.
It is not a secret to anyone that sites such as Machu Picchu, Tikal, and others constitute not only a source of revenue for the states of Mexico, Peru, and Guatemala, but also pilgrimage destinations for believers and new-agers of all kinds. The people who comprise this public are almost exclusively interested in the societies that con- structed the structures that are now, for the most part, in ruins.
These structures are, more often than not, monumental in nature, so monumental that they do not cease to astound the visitors who look at them in amazement for long periods of time — sometimes for many hours or even days.
Read Online One of the privileges gained in colonizing the New World was the power to tell the definitive stories of the struggle. The heroic texts depicting the discovery of territories, early encounters with indigenous peoples, and the ultimate subjection of land anda cultures to European nation-states all but erase the vanquished. In "Forgotten Conquests," Gustavo Verdesio argues that these master narratives represent only one of many possible histories and suggests a way of reading them in order to discover the colonial subjects who did not produce documents. He probes them for traces of conflicts in meaning and the agency of Amerindians, gauchos, Africans, and women the subjected peoples that the texts try to silence. The narrators, speaking for their culture, assume the role of knowing subject, repressing all other voices, epistemologies, and acts of resistance.
GUSTAVO VERDESIO PDF
One of the privileges gained in colonizing the New World was the power to tell the definitive stories of the struggle. The heroic texts depicting the discovery of territories, early encounters with indigenous peoples, and the ultimate subjection of land and cultures to European nation-states all but erase the vanquished. In Forgotten Conquests, Gustavo Verdesio argues that these master narratives represent only one of many possible histories and suggests a way of reading them to find the colonial subjects who did not produce documents. The narrators, speaking for their culture, assume the role of knowing subject, repressing all other voices, epistemologies, and acts of resistance. By unpacking these texts, Verdesio shows that from the European point of view, the colonial encounter draws the New World into historical time and ushers in a new concept of knowledge.
They represent a land that appears to these authors as pristine and untouched by what the West has called civilization. If one were to believe this corpus of texts about lands that were at that time unknown to European subjects, those lands showed no evidence of significant traces of human labor. In my courses about indigenous societies from the past I usually encounter the following situation: a vast majority actually, almost the totality of students who, when asked about the way in which they imagine the pre-contact land of what today is the territory of the United States of America, respond with a depiction of a landscape that contains idyllic images of woods, rivers, and prairies that seem to be, in their different versions, uninhabited. In other words, they often present answers that offer a portrayal of the Americas as a wild territory untouched by human hand. It is only after several questions that lead them to admit the obvious that is, that the lands were populated by a wide variety of human societies and cultures that they begin to realize how pervasive the initial views we inherited from the explorers of the European expansion era still are. Why is it, then, that the myth that represents the Americas as a blank page where European settlers are free to leave their imprint still survives in the collective unconscious of Western culture? Why this inertia of collective memory that privileges only one of the different images of the past?