Christopher Heaney

Ph.D. Candidate (Harrington Doctoral Fellow)
Department of History
University of Texas at Austin

2011 to 2012
Dissertation Research Fellow

Andean Afterlives: the Hemispheric Circulation of the Pre-Columbian Dead and Peruvianist Anthropology, 1780-1948

Abstract: My dissertation excavates the relationship between the excavation and exportation of indigenous Peruvian remains, museums, and the law in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By studying archaeological archives, museum architectures, and legal debates in Peru's congress and press, I explore how Peruvian and U.S. scholars, Indians, and state-backed institutions debated over the right way to open, study and display a pre-Columbian grave. This project begins in 1824, when Peruvian independence first allowed artifacts and remains to flow to U.S. collectors, like Philadelphia’s Samuel G. Morton, and continues through the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, when U.S. excavations of pre-Columbian graves inspired Peruvian laws criminalizing exportation and claiming legal control of indigenous Peru's material past. Nevertheless, archaeology proved more than an elite, neo-colonial science; through local labor and scholarship, transnationally-minded Peruvians shaped hemispheric law, the study of pre-Columbian history, and museums’ relationship to living Indians. Read Chris's report on his PACHS-sponsored research here.