Groovin’ to ancient Peru: A critical analysis of Disney's The Emperor's New Groove

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Disney animated movies have received abundant critical attention over the past 30 years as a quintessentially American manifestation of popular culture and as an expression of corporate and hegemonic ideology. A recent blockbuster film prompts me, as an archaeologist, to consider another aspect of this genre. I am interested in why Disney's The Emperor's New Groove explicitly does not name the archaeological society in which its action is situated (Inca Peru), although this is readily recognizable to archaeologists, and the purpose that this sort of unacknowledged cultural plundering serves. I argue that beyond an understandable ‘artistic license’ with the past (thus Disney did not have to worry about issues of authenticity), this movie (and others of its genre) manifests profound and disturbing objectifications, essentializations, exoticizations and appropriations. These issues implicate current theoretical discussions of simulacra and representation, postmodern spectatorship, placelessness and travel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-322
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social Archaeology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Disney
  • Peru
  • appropriation
  • cultural heritage
  • hyperreality
  • identity
  • postmodern spectatorship
  • simulacra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology


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