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Durham e-Theses
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Some considerations on social classification in the Inca Empire, the concept of Viracocha, and its response to the Spanish invasion

Wallis, Christopher N. (1975) Some considerations on social classification in the Inca Empire, the concept of Viracocha, and its response to the Spanish invasion. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The initial intention of the thesis was to explore an alternative framework for the interpretation of VIRACOCHA, described by the Spanish chroniclers as the Creator God of the Incas. If the different applications of the term 'viracocha' (to an Inca ruler, to certain supernatural beings, and to the deity) are assumed to have some coherence then VIRACOCHA as a concept may be seen in relation to a specific sociological contradiction that, it is presumed, arose with the expansion of the Inca empire. This contradiction is the point of departure for the thesis as follows. In local sources (ie non-Inca oriented) a dual form of classification can be found that distinguishes between 'Insiders' and 'Outsiders', the latter being conceptually subordinate. This 'exclusivist' orientation, it is argued, was upset by the spread of the Inca empire, which posited a more 'inclusive' framework for the classification of its subject groups. The MITIMAS (Inca colonists), by being outsiders to the communities in which they were settled but being also agents, with political power, of the ruling Incas, are taken as a case of the contradiction of 'exclusivist' values. In the dual organization of Cuzco, the Inca capital, it is suggested that the superordinate moiety had associations with the 'Outsider' category. In religious organization it may be seen that an 'imperial' framework was being extended over local cults and it may be that VIRACOCHA had a key position in generating this more inclusive framework. But the same framework may be referred back to the afore mentioned sociological contradiction (Exclusive/Inclusive), between which the VIRACOCHA concept may be seen to mediate and to allow for transformation between old and new models. The mediating role of the concept in the above instance is seen to carry over into the relations between the Indians and Spaniards, between whom new applications of the VIRACOCHA concept could be said to have also mediated, ensuring the compatability of both Spaniards and Indians being included within the same conceptual framework.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1975
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:32

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