Posted by: Johan Normark | July 17, 2009

What matters is water: Fluids and solids in the Cochuah region, Mexico

This is my preliminary abstract for the 2nd Nordic Network for Amerindian Studies conference “Getting Back to Matter”.

The neo-materialist ontology, outlined by the philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Manuel DeLanda, is one of fluidity, complexity, and multiplicity. Matter (artifacts, ruins, postholes, mountains, etc.) is seen as a fluid multiplicity, only changing according to different durations and intensities. These multiplicities, such as water, connect to other multiplicities, forming complex assemblages.

In Mayanist studies water predominates in issues regarding water management and its importance in various rituals. In this paper, water will be seen as a fluid that together with other materials form assemblages that affected people that once lived in the Cochuah region in southern Mexico. Water was used to form more solid (less fluid) materials such as buildings (sascab) and ceramics. Some of these material assemblages also became containers for water in the formation of assemblages of larger scales but shorter duration (ceramic bowls that contained liquid used in a short-term ritual event). Not only is water a fluid that needs to be controlled and sometimes solidified, but so are other components of the assemblages as well. The humans participating in construction, ceramic production, and ritual activities are also either highly fluid (“nomadic”) or solid (“sedentary”) in these processes.

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