The Instrumentalisation of Inca Archaeological Sites. Ethical Issues

  • Antoinette Molinié CNRS; Université Paris Nanterre, France
Keywords: Peru, Inca sites, instrumentalization, national narrative, neo-Indians, New Age mysticism, indigenous representations of remains
Language(s): French


On the occasion of Peru’s Independence, the champions of the Creole nation elevated the Inca State Indian to the status of a respectable ancestor, thus eliminating the Amerindian historicity of the population. The archaeological remains provide support to an indigenist ideology that ignores the sociological Indian, considered to be ontologically inferior. Today, these Inca vestiges contribute to the construction of the national narrative: the Inca solar cult is thus reinvented on the site of Sacsayhuaman. To what extent can the work of archaeologists serve to corroborate partisan ideologies? The presidents of the Peruvian and Bolivian Republics were inducted as pre-Hispanic rulers, the first on the Inca site of Machu Picchu, the second at the Tiwanaku Sun gate. To what extent can the vestiges of a civilization be instrumentalized by politics? The Inca sites are now assailed by New Age mystics from the United States and Europe under the leadership of local neo-shamans. They are indeed reputed to carry positive “energy”, one that is exploited by mystical tourism agencies. To what extent can the heritage of the nation, maintained by public services, be the object of private profits, ideologies that may be sectarian and possibly irreparable damages? In the culture of traditional Andean communities, the pre-Hispanic ruins had a classificatory and symbolic function. This function disappears when the setting of a myth is replaced by a historical site. How can we respect the indigenous perception of archaeological remains? These are the ethical questions that this article seeks to raise on the basis of specific and concrete cases of archaeological sites on which the author has carried out excavations.

How to Cite
Molinié A. The Instrumentalisation of Inca Archaeological Sites. Ethical Issues. Can. J. Bioeth. 2019;2:57-65.