CFP: Place and Agency in Ancient American Murals and Monuments

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Please reply to Margaret A. Jackson, University of New Mexico ( or Victoria I. Lyall, Denver Art Museum (


Place and Agency in Ancient American Murals and Monuments
Session Chairs: Margaret A. Jackson, University of New Mexico ( and Victoria I. Lyall, Denver Art Museum (


Session Abstract:
What is the relationship between place and agency in Ancient American visual culture? Public and monumental arts provide specific instances of how ancient indigenous artists and patrons envisioned certain kinds of relationships. As locations of public nexus, monuments bear the imprint of underlying ideological concepts. Visual arts, objects of visual focus, murals and friezes in particular, serve as mediators for the complex events and social functions each monument fulfills. In many cases, murals function as visual interlocutors.

This session seeks scholars whose work interrogates the relationships between site-specific works and human participants in pre-hispanic America (north, central or south). We seek work that, in addition to articulating the formal characteristics or essential iconography of particular artwork, attempts to discover the mechanisms by which those visual compositions mediate human experience. Place might refer to physical location, but likewise to constructions of space. Monuments could include palaces, temples, sacred sites or other specialized sites. Agency may perhaps suggest the actions or participation of human protagonists, but might also be found in the mediatory agency of things. Evidence of such agencies is possibly found through analysis of costume and pageantry, iconography, transmission of knowledge, or political and social identities. Studies that question or posit models of spatial relationships in built environments, describe patterns of circulation, that point toward religious or social informants, or examine the role of particular human agencies in the construction of visual meaning are welcome.


Geographic Area:
Central America
South America

Time Period:
500 BCE to Fifth Century
Sixth to Tenth Century
Eleventh to Fourteenth Century

Public Art (history and studio)

Material Culture
Visual Studies