Ritual Commensality between Human and Non-Human Persons: Investigating Native Ontologies in the Late Pre-Columbian Andean World

Tamara Bray


In anthropology, it has become axiomatic that social relationships are constructed through food practices and embodied in food. This paper suggests that both ritual and quotidian commensality have as either a goal or a consequence the construction of specific relations of sociality, and in this regard are not so different. What may distinguish these spheres of commensality, however, are the types of persons engaged in the act of shared consumption. The paper considers ritual commensality as a means of exploring the social universe and indigenous ontology of native Andean peoples, using both archaeological and ethnohistoric data. The role such commensal activities may have played in the construction of, and engagement with, other-than-human persons in the late pre-Columbian Andes is considered.

Andean Archaeology; Commensality; Feasting; huaca; Pre-Columbian Andes; Ontology; Relationality

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eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies (ISSN 2192-2608)