Vertigo in a High Place, or, Rapaz amid the Ontologies

Workshop | December 4 | 3-6 p.m. | 223 Moses Hall

 Frank Salomon, Professor Emeritus, John V. Murra Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

 Archaeological Research Facility

Rapaz is a village in the western range of the Peruvian Andes, notable for maintaining a temple called Kaha Wayi to the mountain powers or “owners” of water and weather. Rapaz is also known for its patrimonial collection of cord records called khipu. Within Kaha Wayi’s murky chamber both political self-government and rituals managing relations with the environment take place. Work in Kaha Wayi richly expresses an “implicit cosmology.” What should we think about such systems? The “ontological turn” challenges anthropology’s tradition of taking cosmological expressions as plural representations of an underlyingly unitary world, the world of nature. It demands instead a final pluralism. In dialogue with Casper Bruun Jensen’s 2017 reassessment of recent ontological tendencies, this talk considers what “worlds” might appear in Kaha Wayi under diverging interpretations of final pluralism.

Frank Salomon is the John V. Murra Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa. An ethnographer and ethnohistorian of the Andes (Ph.D. Cornell 1978), he is the author of Native Lords of Quito in the Age of the Incas (1986), The Huarochiri Manuscript, a Testament of Ancient and Colonial Andean Religion (1991), Los Yumbos, Niguas, y Tsátchila o “Colorados” durante la colonia española (1997), the Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas – South America (1999), The Cord Keepers (2004), La revisita de 1588: Huarochirí veinte años antes de “Dioses y hombres” (2010), and The Lettered Mountain (with Mercedes Niño-Murcia, 2011) and various other works. A past president of the American Society for Ethnohistory, he has held NSF, Guggenheim, SAR, and NSF fellowships. His new book (Routledge/Taylor and Francis 2017) is At the Mountains’ Altar: Anthropology of Religion in an Andean Community. He is the recipient of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Society for Ethnohistory., 510-664-4498