Between the Kitchen and the State: Domestic Practice and Chimú Expansion in the Jequetepeque Valley, Peru.

Robyn E. Cutright

PhD Thesis 2009

This thesis investigates change and continuity in domestic life and culinary practice at Pedregal, a small rural settlement in the Jequetepeque Valley, as it was incorporated into the Chimú state in the 14th century A.D. Specifically, research was designed to document the impact of Chimú conquest on local domestic economy, and to generate a "view from below" of Chimú administrative strategies. At the same time, it aimed to identify potential changes in the focus or range of household activities in the context of Chimú expansion, in order to investigate how late prehispanic domestic economies responded to change at the regional level. Excavations in household units and midden deposits at Pedregal and analysis of botanical, faunal, and ceramic remains were employed to reconstruct food processing, preparation, and consumption in households before and after Chimú conquest. Results suggest that strong elements of both change and continuity characterized Pedregal domestic economies during the LIP. Household processing of maize and cotton increased substantially during the LIP, possibly in response to Chimú state strategies related to the production and extraction of these staples. However, despite a shift in patterns of resource procurement from wild resources to domesticated species, the general outline of cuisine and culinary practice at Pedregal remained the same. Most changes observed at Pedregal occurred in the intensity and focus of procurement and production strategies, rather than in the range of domestic activities. This study suggests that though the Chimú imposed provincial administrative infrastructure on the Jequetepeque Valley and increased production of bulk staples such as maize and cotton, local rural life was not substantially altered by Chimú conquest. In this case, incorporation into wider regional political and economic systems did not result in the loss of household economic autonomy in rural communities. Rather, households responded to regional political and economic change by altering the focus, but not the range of household economic activities