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Out of Urbs, Civitas: Landscapes of Forced Resettlement in the Zaña and Chamán Valleys, Peru

Nathaniel P. VanValkenburgh, Harvard University, Junior Fellow 2010/11

During a half-year stay at Dumbarton Oaks, I made great progress writing up a doctoral dissertation entitled Out of Urbs, Civitas: Landscapes of Forced Resettlement in the Zaña and Chamán Valleys, Peru. Through regional settlement survey of Prehispanic and colonial landscapes, excavations at several colonial sites, and archival approaches, my research has examined the impact of the Spanish reducción movement on the indigenous societies of the Zaña/Chamán region in the late 16th century. Initiated wholesale by Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in 1572 C.E., the reducción program sought to resettle the entirety of Peru's indigenous populations into a series of planned towns, but the scarcity of primary historical sources attesting to the movement has made it extraordinarily difficult to study. In this context, archaeological approaches offer insights not only into undocumented elements of resettlement, such as its impacts on indigenous daily life, but also a bridge between Prehispanic and Early Colonial modes of dwelling and circulation. By simultaneously studying late Prehispanic landscapes in Zaña/Chamán, as well as how the region's native inhabitants responded to colonial attempts to forcibly disarticulate them from these webs of practice, meaning, and political action, I have sought to plot reducción within a larger project to understand late Prehispanic political subjectivity on the North Coast. At Dumbarton Oaks, readings of multiple editions of colonial chronicles and transcriptions of primary sources from Peruvian and Spanish archives led me to reexamine how early Spanish perceptions of native landscapes shaped the reducción movement. Moreover, conversations with colleagues in Garden and Landscape Studies encouraged me to consider the role of architecture and aesthetic production in the Spanish colonization of Peru in greater detail. Finally, I benefitted greatly from the library's collection of unpublished B.A. and Licenciatura theses from Peru, which present otherwise underreported archaeological findings from the region I have been studying.

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