12 November 2021 — 12:00 noon — online

Christopher Heaney (Pennsylvania State University)

“The Mismeasure of Incas: Samuel George Morton and a Peruvian Foundation for American Anthropology”

From 1820 through 1920, American anthropologists acquired more Andean human remains than from any other individual population worldwide. Samuel George Morton, the Smithsonian, Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, and the American Museum of Natural History all made “ancient Peruvians” core to their collections, asserting authority over the Americas’ racialized past and present by using “ancient Peruvians” as a historic set against which living Native Americans might be compared. This paper seeks to reframe the rise of anthropology and craniology as disciplinary practices by paying particular attention to the particularly Peruvian conditions that turned ancestors into such statistically significant and “collectible” sets. Given those conditions, and outside interest, Peruvian scholars reframed their own anthropological and scientific trajectories in ways that ask us, today, to think through the multiple temporalities of science, museum-building, Indigeneity, and the collection and repatriation of human remains in the Americas.


Christopher Heaney earned his PhD from the UT History Department in 2016 and is now an Assistant Professor of History at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones and the Search for Machu Picchu (2010), published in Peru as Las Tumbas de Machu Picchu: La historia de Hiram Bingham y la Busqueda de las últimas ciudades de los Incas (2012), and is currently at work on two monographs, both informed by research in museums and archives in Peru, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Spain: a cultural and material history of the collection, circulation, study, and display of Inca mummies and ancient Peruvian skulls in the Americas; and an intellectual history of the legalization of grave-robbing in Peru and the Anglo-Iberian Atlantic World.

View his website at: http://www.christopherheaney.net.


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