6 pm reception
6:30 pm lecture

Coca is deeply enmeshed in the fabric of Andean societies. For millennia its leaves have provided Andean people with a medicine and mild stimulant. Its cultural role as a sacrament continues today in highland communities, where the religious beliefs and practices of Indigenous peoples are entwined with those of Christianity. Coca is carried in chuspas—small woven bags that are designed to hold coca leaves and that reflect great care and artistry. In this lecture, Catherine Allen will discuss the enduring significance of chuspas to the people who make and use them.

Catherine Allen is professor emeritus of anthropology and international affairs at The George Washington University. She is the author of The Hold Life Has: Coca and Cultural Identity in an Andean Community (2002).