December 07, 2015 // posted by Sherrie Voss Matthews
Across the Andes Mountains next summer, five UTSA anthropology graduate students will delve into the past of the Inka.
|Matt Warren, a UTSA graduate student, on location in Bolivia, during a past research trip.|
“Our research broadly emphasizes environmental zones in Bolivian high zone to the eastern Andes,” said Matthew Warren. “The common theme of our research is that is concerns cultural change. When the Inka and Spanish moved in and how cultural change was influenced by those events.”
This exploration into how cultural changes can affect populations will be funded in part by the UTSA Carlos and Malú Alvarez International Study Fund.
“The grant makes it affordable,” Sonia Alconini, associate professor of anthropology in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, explained. Alconini applied for the funds on behalf of her graduate students, who will work separately in field camps across Bolivia and Peru.
“We work as a group,” she added. “We meet in La Paz city to organize the research permits from the Bolivian government, and we participate in a series of meetings and seminars organized by local universities. After a series of meetings where we discuss the logistical details, each one goes to his or her specific areas. There’s a lot of synergy with the (local) students there.”
“The Alvarez International Study Fund has opened up multiple opportunities for UTSA students to have global experiences since 2007,” said Dr. René Zenteno, Vice Provost for International Initiatives and chair of the fund’s review committee. “Each program awarded defrays the cost for students to do in-depth study abroad with UTSA faculty guidance.”
The 2016 summer program will allow the students additional time for fieldwork projects in different locations of Peru and Bolivia. Each student will be doing on-location research to examine a different aspect of Andean archaeology, such as those along the ancient Inka borderlands, for their dissertations.
They will study issues of social organization, complexity and frontier dynamics among different prehistoric cultures on the central Peruvian coast and along the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in Bolivia.
Each student’s project requires comprehensive surveys and excavations, as well as in-depth analysis of the recovered archaeological materials. Each hopes to obtain enough data to move forward with their research.
What makes a successful research trip?
“Good data collection,” Matthew Warren said, laughing. “But also collaborative research with local institutions and partners. We are really trying to establish closer institutional ties and archeological community ties, fundamentally maintaining and strengthening those ties.”
The anthropology graduate students who will participate in the Bolivia/Peru trip include:
- Jose Barragan, who is principally concerned with warfare and frontier relations between the Inka Empire and local societies. He will be mapping and likely conducting a survey focused on the eastern frontier site of Ixiamas, in the Bolivian department of La Paz.
- Adam Birge is interested in understanding the use of ceremonial landscapes during both the Inka and Spanish Colonial periods, and how these uses and their associated beliefs changed through time. He will be returning to the Sajama region, in the Bolivian department of Oruro, to refine and analyze his survey data collected this summer and conduct additional ethnoarchaeological work among the local community.
- Lynn Kim studies Inka colonialism and its effects on local agricultural production in the eastern Andean highlands of Bolivia. She will be returning to complete her soil sample collections of prehistoric agrarian terraces and GPS mapping of water reservoirs in the Charazani region of La Paz.
- Daniel Nicholson is focused on understanding community organization and ritual activity within early urban Peruvian coastal sites. He will be returning to conduct further mapping and survey at the site of San Diego, in the Casma province of Peru.
Matthew Warren is investigating colonial relations between the Inka Empire and indigenous communities in the context of the eastern imperial frontier. He will be returning to the Pulquina Arriba region in the Bolivian department of Santa Cruz to begin conducting excavations at several locations identified through past survey work.
Left to right: Adam Birge, Matthew Warren, Dr. Sonia Alconini and Jose Barragan. Not pictured: Lynn Kim and Daniel Nickolson.
UTSA has allowed them to delve deep into research, not only through the institutional and departmental funding that allows them to travel, but also through assistance from resources such as John Peace Library.
Each student hopes that the coming summer will bring them closer to their ultimate goals: A future that involves research or teaching.
“What’s the point of doing all of this stuff unless you can pass it on to others?” Birge explained.