“This book is the result of a lifetime commitment to generous types of scholarship and ethnographic practice. Its rich historical descriptions and theoretical analyses will be a long-lasting contribution to the many fields of American anthropology, archaeology, heritage, and social memory.”—O. Hugo Benavides, author of The Politics of Sentiment: Imagining and Remembering Guayaquil

“Christie uses archaeology and philosophical concepts to indicate the importance of cultural landscapes to three groups in the Americas, providing information for researchers interested in connections between Indigenous communities and land.”—Joe Watkins, author of Indigenous Archaeology: American Indian Values and Scientific Practice

Focusing on three communities in North, Central, and South America, Earth Politics and Intangible Heritage: Three Case Studies in the Americas layers archaeological research with local knowledge in its interpretations of these cultural landscapes. Using the perspective of earth politics, this book demonstrates a way of reconciling the tension between Western scientific approaches to history and the more intangible heritage derived from Indigenous oral narratives and social memories.            

Jessica Christie presents case studies from Canyon de Chelly National Monument on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, United States; the Yucatec Maya village of Coba in Quintana Roo, Mexico; and the Aymara town of Copacabana on Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Each of these places is home to a longstanding community located near ancient archaeological sites, and in each case residents relate to the ruins and the land in ways that anchor their histories, memories, identities, and daily lives. Christie’s dual approach shows how these ancestral groups have confronted colonial power structures over time, as well as how the Christian religion has impacted traditional lifeways at each site.

Based on extensive field experiences, Christie’s discussions offer productive strategies for scientific and Indigenous wisdoms to work in parallel directions rather than in conflict. The insights in this book will serve as building blocks for shaping a regenerative future—not only for these important heritage sites but also for many others across the globe.  

Jessica Joyce Christie, professor of art history at East Carolina University, is the author of Memory Landscapes of the Inka Carved Outcrops.

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