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Rethinking the Inka

Rethinking the Inka
Community, Landscape, and Empire in the Southern Andes

Leading researchers offer a dramatic reappraisal of the Inka Empire through the lens of Qullasuyu, a conquered region largely absent from existing English-language scholarship.

Series: William and Bettye Nowlin Endowment

February 2022
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328 pages | 8.5 x 11 |

The Inka conquered an immense area extending across five modern nations, yet most English-language publications on the Inka focus on governance in the area of modern Peru. This volume expands the range of scholarship available in English by collecting new and notable research on Qullasuyu, the largest of the four quarters of the empire, which extended south from Cuzco into contemporary Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.

From the study of Qullasuyu arise fresh theoretical perspectives that both complement and challenge what we think we know about the Inka. While existing scholarship emphasizes the political and economic rationales underlying state action, Rethinking the Inka turns to the conquered themselves and reassesses imperial motivations. The book’s chapters, incorporating more than two hundred photographs, exploring relations between powerful local lords and their Inka rulers; the roles of nonhumans in the social and political life of the empire; local landscapes remade under Inka rule; and the appropriation and reinterpretation by locals of Inka objects, infrastructure, practices, and symbols. Written by some of South America’s leading archaeologists, Rethinking the Inka is poised to be a landmark book in the field.


Frances M. Hayashida is a professor of anthropology at the University of New Mexico and the director of the Latin American and Iberian Institute.

Andrés Troncoso is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Chile.

Diego Salazar is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Chile.


Rethinking the Inka Empire brings us new insights into the expansionary motives and methods of the last and largest indigenous state in the Americas as seen from the perspective of the south—the imperial realm known as Qullasuyu—where some of the most exciting research in Inka studies is happening today. In this volume, leading scholars from South America provide a cohesive set of studies that foreground contemporary theoretical concerns with sacred landscapes, material agencies, and social ecologies.”
Tamara Bray, Wayne State University, author of The Archaeology of Wak’as: Explorations of the Sacred in the Pre-Columbian Andes

“This important and engaging volume brings together recent scholarship regarding the largest sector of the Inca Empire:  Qullasuyu, the vast southern suyu of the Empire of the Four Quarters, Tawantinsuyu. Summarizing recent and extensive archaeological and ethnohistorical research, the contributors explore the dynamic interactions between an expanding empire and indigenous elites and communities, as well as the relations between humans and nonhuman agents such as mountain peaks, sacred shrines, and mines. The result is an invaluable contribution to South American prehistory and a stimulating model for thinking about the global archaeology of empires. ”
Jerry D. Moore, California State University Dominguez Hills, author of Ancient Andean Houses: Making, Inhabiting, Studying