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This paper may be of particular interest to:  Practicing and Applied Anthropologists     Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges     Students
Type: Paper
Paper Title: MOBILIZING THE MONOLITH
Author: SANDRA ROZENTAL   
Date/Time: Thu., 8:15 AM
Co-Author(s): SANDRA ROZENTAL 
Abstract: Historically, the appropriation and displacement of monumental objects has been deployed both as a display of sovereign power and as a technique for the production of colonial subjects. Transposed to programs of modern nation building, such displacements have been designed to transform these objects into national patrimony, and thereby to unite the citizenry through a tangible collective inheritance. In this paper I propose to discuss the Mexican state’s transportation of a colossal stone carving of a pre-Hispanic rain deity – the largest monolith in the Americas. This spectacular feat of modern engineering, undertaken in 1964, relocated what had hitherto been considered an immovable feature of the local landscape, from the rural town of Coatlinchan to the heart of Mexico City. Transformed into a portable object, the monolith was minted as national property and enshrined in front of the National Museum of Anthropology. By the same stroke, the secular Mexican state and its corps of archaeologists inadvertently reanimated the deity that lay dormant within this object, producing it as a subject whose wrath was expressed in the form of unseasonable torrential rains that inundated the city upon its arrival. Rather than interpellating residents of Coatlinchan as indistinguishable subjects within a centralized, homogeneous national body, this dispossession served to unearth and revitalize the community’s ties of direct ancestry to the ancient makers of the monolith. Forty-five years later, through the production of replicas, rain petition rituals and vernacular forms of archaeology, Coatlinchan’s residents are remobilizing the monolith to substantiate local claims to land, natural resources and particular kinds of citizenship. Through an ethnographic analysis of these practices, I theorize mobility as a reciprocal, generative process that affects subjects by means of their relationships to other kinds of bodies.

Program Number: 2-0215
Session Title: MOVING BODIES, BEING SUBJECTS: ETHNOGRAPHIC, ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL APPROACHES TO MOBILITY
Session Sponsor: Co-Sponsored by Archaeology Division and Archaeology Division
Session Date/Time: Thu., 8:00 AM-11:45 AM
Organizer(s): MAUREEN MARSHALL (University of Chicago), MICHELLE LELIEVRE (University of Chicago) 
Chair(s): MAUREEN MARSHALL (University of Chicago)  
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