Issue - August 2009

August 2009


Inside this edition: Satoshi Shibata tells us about Incallajta ruins and the Projects helping improve it; the dancers of Urkupina by Minato Kobori; Rachel Dakin questions the rise in production in the fashion industry; and finally Walter Sanchez with another story about the Rio more...

August 2009

People & Incallajta, a cultural link to the future

The rich cultural heritage of this country is slowly making its way towards UNESCO recognition. Head of the Museo Arqueologico, María de los Angeles Muñoz and her associates work to preserve Incan history and culture and are initiating new community development.

Satoshi Shibata
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Chiba - Japan

The conceptions of history have been almost as numerous as the men who have written it. For many, it is the purpose of satisfying our curiosity regarding the past or a significant academic tool for creating future inventions. From its studies, a great deal of attention has been reflected on to the role of linking cultural heritage to processes of local development. This being not a vision, but an ability to generate dynamic processes related to identity. With archaeology, heritage, culture in the current context, and a philosophy of active participation by local actors, the Archeology Department of Cochabamba commits itself to the case of Incan recognition and towards the inscription of a World Heritage Site.

The site Incallajta or “Incan City” had been untouched until 1913, when a Swedish ethnologist and explorer, Baron Erland NordenskiÖld discovered the area. A massive monumental building of 78m x 25m and numerous architectural structures were distributed throughout an exclusive landmass in the canton of Pocono. Hidden in the valley, the archeological complex was protected from a naturally elevated platform and two river streams that cut through both sides. Incallajta became not only the hub for investigators, but also geographically attractive to tourists. By 1929, the site had been declared a national monument and its significance was officially approved by the National Congress of Bolivia on August 31, 1988.

According to the book Patrimonio Cultural y Desarrollo Local Comunitario el Caso Incallajta (Abril 2006), there has been much archeological excavation in the area to reveal Incan society. The prominent building, known as the Kallanka (church), is the greatest structure of all Incan constructions and the outer wall of it was made of a unique rock, historically interpreted as an Ushnu: central altar and a seat of the Inca. The discovery of an Ushnu in 2001 revealed the existence of an important ceremony practiced in their time. Consecutively, a tower located on a ridge near the western creek has been attributed by scholars that, not only did it have a military purpose but, it may have served as a calendar or had astronomical significance. The land indicated a high concentration of agricultural activities and a great control over access to water and storage. From studies, Incallajta proved its significance, not only as a fortress, but an important multi-site serving various functions.

Community Development and People

In regard to recent history of the site, it was under the work by the Museum of Archeology of the University Mayor de San Simon and the University of Pennsylvania, a project developed in 1999 that consisted of extensive reconnaissance and survey in the zone. Parallel to this archaeological project to date, continues the development of interrelationships between the preservation of culture and the wellbeing of all surrounding communities. The General Conference of UNESCO had established guidelines that the search would be given to the World Commission on Culture and Development (WCCD), such including socioeconomic developments of the area. The joint determination of site management and improvements in the resident’s living standards became a necessity for Incallajta to become a World Heritage site.

Bases of social development are directed to five communities that are the subcomponent of Incallajta: Quirusillani, Machajmarca, K’uchu Wacas Leuque, and Inca subordinate—that is, adding family members of each affiliate, an estimated one thousand inhabitants, in the area. Speaking with the local individuals, it was inevitably clear that areas of Incallajta suffer from acute problems such as poverty, land with excessive percolation, lack of irrigation and poor roads. However, they have realized that there is considerable potential of initiating a boost in tourism for its cultural heritage, especially in the areas of archaeology, architectural natural environment. From this, the Archeology Department has recognized heritage-tours as an essential pillar of developing entity and self-generation to foster individual creativity and establish a direct role towards economic leisure on site.

Now and the Future

It makes us use our minds in a creative way to combine cultural heritage and local development. Until the intervention of the Archeology Department, the history of Incan civilization has been neglected and almost forgotten amongst the villagers. The Kallanka was used as a soccer field and vegetation grew on many of the monuments. Experiments conducted by the project had constant surprises to offer the community as they discovered many new things. “So I call it an emergence of identity” explains María de los Angeles Muñoz, Director of the Museum of Archeology, “…an identity beginning to sprout, take root at the same time and realize the true significance of the site”. The community is now taking responsibility for allocating resources, land, infrastructure, personnel, and coordinating tours for an alternative socio-economic path towards development.

“People on the site now want to have greater projectprojections within their community. They aretaking into account recuperating Incan traditions,creating new paths for a horse-riding trek, stationingvendors for souvenirs and initiating formal touristtransportation from Cochabamba.” -María de losAngeles Muñoz (Museum of Archeology, UniversityMayor de San Simon)

Given that all community members in the area are Quechua-speakers, the Institute of Museum and Anthropological Research (INIAM) has trained guides in their language and provided numerous archeological workshops in Cochabamba. It is worth mentioning that the leaders of sub-central Incallajta are in full coordination for monthly meetings and the Pocono Municipal Government are now taking part in managing other recreational activities on site. In this regard, on the night of December 20th and morning of the 21st, the celebrants of the community will proceed on their annual Khapac Raymi Festival: where people celebrate the rituals to Pachamama (mother earth) and dress in traditional clothes, play their native instruments and feast on traditional foods.

The site now has an outstanding multimodality as the Incan monuments are beginning to have a new meaning for their community. In the last few years, it has been rewarding to discover the process of ownership and identity that is emerging within the residents. Recuperating traditions, excitement in their coordination, active participation, the pursuit of knowledge and efforts in conservation work gives full account to acquiring a new cultural link to the future. This sense of ownership can be seen by how Kallanka is starting to appear on many pamphlets as a representative icon of Incallajta.

Daily approaches taken within the community have exceeded the expectations of a simple project of archeological research, yet the site Incallajta has still been untouched in many ways to the public. Locals are continuing to promote a harmonious and sustainable development through productive vocation of the territory but they are still faced with the challenge of making profitable amounts of income. Statistics show that there are less than 2000 visitors throughout the entire year.

The project which started in 1999 is looking for more channels of funding on a national and international scale. However, a lot could be done by simply recruiting more visitors from in and around the country. By purchasing a tour ticket at 5Bs at the Museum of Archeology, you will be helping the investigators to unveil further mysteries hidden on site, conserve and maintain the monuments for future generations to see, as well as contribute to the local community so they can meet their ultimate goal of transforming it into a social reality. The site is only a step away from being recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage site. This can be done through the people and Incallajta’s cultural heritage.

The Virgen de Urkupina and her followers

Urkupina. One of the biggest festivals not only in Cochabamba, but in the whole of Bolivia, has a special place in the hearts of everyone. What about for the dancers? I spoke to Carmen from the office first, who has been dancing in the Urkupiña festivity for five years. Anyone can dance if they have the desire to. Some dancers can be as young as five. Depending on the type of dance male or all female dancers or mixed.…

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