A Total Site of Hegemony: Monumental Materiality at Teotihuacan, Mexico
AuthorNewell, Gillian Elisabeth
Committee ChairHill, Jane H.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation addresses the complex status of Teotihuacan, officially demarcated as a "zone of archaeological monuments," at the center of Mexico, which is a pluralistic nation-state. Located 40 kilometers from the modern capital, its largest pyramid, the Pyramid of the Sun, was built almost 2,000 years ago. Attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, it is not only an important source of revenue but also a powerful symbol of Mexican national identity and immense historical pride. Leaving this site's prehistoric origins and significance for archaeologists to sort out, this thesis focuses on its position near the core of the political system and its role in articulating and commemorating national identity. By examining how the site has survived through history, how it has been represented, and how people interact with the site and at its premises, this thesis elaborates on the extent to which Teotihuacan should be conceived specifically as a nation-state formation place and on what other factors have shaped the place in its current form. The diversity that is revealed by this examination indicates, moreover, that the nation-state formation paradigm focuses too narrowly on ideological connotations, and fails to acknowledge some of the underlying aspects of materiality that form the site as well. The case-study examines the diverse ways in which meaning is constructed at Teotihuacan and proposes to study Teotihuacan as a 'total site.' Taking after French anthropologist Marcel Mauss's `total social phenomenon,' the `total site' concept describes a place that features diversely in the collective imagination and must be understood as such, and is used to integrate a variety of perspectives that relate to and give meaning to Teotihuacan as a diverse place. Serving as a heuristic device to characterize the complexity of Teotihuacan, the term captures both material and ideological aspects. This discussion, finally, exposes Mexico as a country with a strong nation-state formation tradition, but suggests that there is more to Mexico than that nation-state formation agenda.