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Conflict, Conquest, and the Performance of War in Pre-Columbian America

October 14–15, 2011 | Pre-Columbian Studies Symposium, Andrew Scherer and John Verano, Symposiarchs

The presence of violent conflict and warfare is widely acknowledged throughout the Pre-Columbian Americas. A perusal of the recent literature on Pre-Columbian warfare reveals that much of the work is regionally focused or primarily concerned with the evolution of violent conflict from formative to increasingly complex societies. Lacking, however, is a dialogue on Pre-Columbian warfare that recognizes the striking parallels in certain practices—captive taking, human sacrifice, warfare as statecraft, violence as ritual—that occur across the hemisphere. Researchers across the Americas have marshaled the same new methodological advances—such as bioarchaeology, settlement archaeology, and GIS analysis—to tackle the problem of violent conflict, yet may not be taking advantage of the insights gained from similar studies in other parts of Latin America. This symposium will take advantage of these new trends in research by bringing together a diverse group of scholars with similar interests in understanding warfare in the Pre-Columbian past.

The symposium is organized with Andrew Scherer (Brown University) and John Verano (Tulane University). Symposium speakers include

  • Elizabeth Arkush (University of Pittsburgh),
  • Luis Jaime Castillo Butters (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú),
  • Ximena Chávez Balderas (Museo del Templo Mayor & Tulane University),
  • Gerardo Gutiérrez (University of Colorado at Boulder),
  • Eugenia Ibarra (Universidad de Costa Rica),
  • Takeshi Inomata (University of Arizona),
  • Arthur Joyce (University of Colorado at Boulder),
  • George Lau (University of East Anglia),
  • Dennis Ogburn (University of North Carolina at Charlotte),
  • Matthew Restall (The Pennsylvania State University),
  • J. Marla Toyne (University of Central Florida),
  • and Tiffiny A. Tung (Vanderbilt University).

John Haldon (Princeton University) will provide concluding remarks.