Present Combines the Past: Power Settlement Foundation Symbols in the Mixteca Alta

Sunday, January 5, 2014: 11:40 AM
Columbia Hall 2 (Washington Hilton)
Ethelia Ruiz Medrano, National Institute of Anthropology
It is a difficult enterprise -mostly reserved to very few erudite archeologists and historians- to capture the nature of power symbols exercised by Prehispanic civilizations in what is now Mexico.  The complexity of Prehispanic power symbols and rituals combine with the scarce material sources and ideological remains in the present day, makes this kind of study a most specialized and difficult intellectual adventure. Nevertheless ethnography can also aid in this complex reconstruction if we have the opportunity to “see” and engage in the present foundation of Mixtec rural nucleus (small entities that are administrative dependancies of a cabecera or town head). In this presentation my aim is to discuss the inauguration of a recent foundation of a rural nucleus from the high Mixtec town of Cuquila, and compare this present day symbolic political endeavor made by local authorities within the background of traditional power symbols utilized by the ancient Mixtec royalty in Prehispanic and colonial times. My intention is not grounded in adding an imaginary example of an unchanged and frozen time millenarian tradition into present days, but rather I try to understand how power symbols change over time and adapt to Indigenous present and future political agenda as a social and ideological weapon that is aimed to the bounding of community’s social and political traditional ties in their complex present.