Immanence and the Spirit of Ancient Urbanism at Paquimé and Liangzhu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter argues that water is immanent in ways that afford it affective and religious power—making it a literal and figurative spirit of ancient urbanism. Water enabled the stratification of relational fields in ways that help to understand the causal relationships between urbanism and religion. As Paquime’s non-human artifacts and images reveal, and as Liangzhu’s Silver Dragon and water-spirit imagery attest, people were most assuredly not the only, if even the primary, mediators of these two urbanisms. The stratification of watery relations via infrastructure is what made the cities of Paquime and Liangzhu cities. The chapter suggests that the most causally significant affects and infrastructures are the most fundamental, elemental, and immanent. It highlights the ways in which the instantiation of places, and later engagements of people in those places, were trans-scalar and trans-dimensional relationships that varied owing to the affective linkages through which they were assembled, and ultimately converted, by water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNew Materialisms Ancient Urbanisms
EditorsSusan Alt, Timothy R. Pauketat
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9781351008471
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-54250-1
StatePublished - 2019


  • ISAS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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