Prof. Frank Salomon, March 20, 2012

“Peru: Mountain Life and Modernity”

Watch the program here.

Since 1992 the Andean countries, once troubled by poverty, racial exclusion and political warfare, have burst forward with striking growth and innovation. A lifetime of research into the culture of the Quechua-speaking peoples (heirs of the Inkan Empire) brings to life products and ideas unique to the high Andes. This same lifetime, however, is not just a chronicle of tradition. What does Andean tradition mean to the people who have grown up in a breakthrough era?

Professor Salomon’s current work is a detailed study of Rapaz, a community at 4000 meters over sea level. This community guards some 263 khipus (knotted-cord records) in a house of traditional rituals from which villagers serve the defied mountains. The project combines a close study of these khipus with archaeological, ethnographic, and architectural studies of their context. Khipus research bears on questions of “proto-writing” and the origin and demise of scripts.

Salomon is the John V. Murra Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin- Madison and Adjunct Professor at the University of Iowa. He has done field research in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia for four decades. The results include The Lettered Mountain: A Peruvian Village’s Way With Writing (with Mercedes Nino-Murcia, Duke, 2011) The Cord Keepers: Khipus and Cultural Life in a Peruvian Village (Duke, 2004), and The Huarochiri­ Manuscript (Texas, 1991). His edited works include the South American volumes of the Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas (1999). He is a past President of the American Society for Ethnohistory.

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