“Peru: Mountain Life and Modernity”
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.