This thesis explore the wide and complex definition of the space named as house in an indigenous community, the Nahuas, located in the Zongolica Mountain Range, Mexico. It will draw on ethnographic research to show how Nahuas relate to the corporeal world (objects and environment) and, through processes of struggle and negotiation, use them to produce this physical space, called house. In doing so, it will uncover a different historical narrative. By examining the “house”, and the materials used to produce it, as a space that is lived and built (the house) but also perceived, dreamt and remembered (a home), this thesis highlights interconnections between the study of the physical world (materiality) and the study of social processes (social structure and social relations). For, it is through the rhythms of the Nahua’s everyday life including material acts of remembrance and spatial practices of memory, that these physical spaces (their houses) can be better understood.
Throughout this thesis I will argue that Nahua delimitation and definition of their houses is continuously changing. This because Nahuas modify their space though their traditions (even those spaces that haven’t been explored such as caves and other ones, are modified through their tales and beliefs). These living traditions transfer meaning and orientate both the objects and the environment. Therefore, their objects and the environment (Materiality) is built upon cultural patterns and values that are constantly being modified. Regardless of any processes of subordination, dominance or interrelationship between other groups, Nahuas materiality do not disappear, because it is fluid and dynamic, these becomes modified or reinterpreted. Nahuas Materiality permeates through memory, imagination, traditions, as I will explore through this thesis.
Therefore, rather than beginning with a define idea of what a house is –size, architecture, social structure-, this thesis addresses them as complex physical spaces that encapsulates history, religion folklore and knowledge, both materially, spatially and through the oral traditions and storytelling of the communities that produce them, and in turn produced through them. This continuous movement that builds these space-places allow us to uncover the fluid rhythms that built these places. Therefore, this thesis will present the houses as complex spaces that are fluid, rather than walls and intimate spaces, houses are presented as built spaces in constant change with a never clear present; rather, there is an experience based on the past and the projection to the future. By presenting the materiality of the houses that connects people with their environment (to which Nahuas had to adapt) an agentic and meaningful space was built, one that includes the memory of adaptation that construct their Nahua-ness when producing their home Tocha (as they name it), and the projection of this Nahua-ness into the future. Houses then remain in the memory of the Elders and become agents in the construction and consolidation of subjectivities through the knowledge and the rhythms of repetition that constitue their everyday life.