Kathleen Van Vlack will be defending her dissertation: "Puaxant Tuvip - Power Lands: Southern Paiute Cultural Landscapes and Pilgrimage Trails."
The presentation, open to the public, will begin at 9am; the exam follows from 10:00 to noon in Harvill 332A.
In many societies around the world, religious specialists engage in the act of pilgrimage and while on pilgrimage, they travel to unique and powerful places and landscapes. They follow trails that have long been established as ceremonial pathways. As the pilgrims travel, they perform ritual acts, which are critical to successfully completing the pilgrimage ceremony. The ways in which people engage in these ritual activities, the places they travel to, and how they are interconnected have been the focus of many anthropological studies. Understanding how pilgrimages and associated performance characteristics manifest themselves physically in a particular region has led to interesting questions about how places and people are connected and how trail systems manifest themselves across a landscape. For those who have an interest in heritage conservation, identifying pilgrimage trails and their performance characteristics presents unique challenges in preservation and land management planning. My research seeks to address some of these issues of cultural landscapes through the lens of Southern Paiute culture. I will examine Southern Paiute pilgrimage trails and their associated performance characteristics. While pilgrimage trails have been documented in Southern Paiute territory in previous studies, no in depth analysis of pilgrimage performance characteristics and pilgrimage community formation exists.