Jeffrey Quilter spoke at Museum Conversations on Wednesday, December 12, 2012. His talk is entitled “Archaeology, Museums, and Tourism in Contemporary Peru.”

While the iconic “Modern Wonder of the World,” Machu Picchu, still draws the greatest number of tourists to Peru, new archaeological research programs, museums, and appreciations of the past have grown exponentially in the last 25 years. These changes are taking place within a number of converging and parallel social and political events. The embracing neo-liberal political and economic agendas have occurred at the same time that regional identities are being reinterpreted and reasserted and as spectacular new archaeological discoveries have been made. In this lecture, Quilter will explore these changes as they have been expressed in Peru, especially on the North Coast where he has conducted extensive research in the last two decades.

Jeffrey Quilter is the William and Muriel Seabury Howells Director of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology and Senior Lecturer of Archaeology at Harvard University. Quilter previously taught at Ripon College (1980-1995) and served as Director of Pre-Columbian Studies and Curator of the Pre-Columbian Collection at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (1995-2005). He received his B.A. in Social Sciences from The College, University of Chicago, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Quilter’s early career was focused on questions on the origins of sedentism (Paloma Site) and complex societies (Media Luna, El Paraíso) in Peru. During the period of instability in Peru (late 1980s-1990s), he shifted his research focus to examine the art and iconography of the Moche culture of Peru and began a long-term archaeological project in Costa Rica at the Rivas ceremonial and mortuary complex. Since 2002, Quilter has been working in cooperation with Peruvian archaeologists at the El Brujo Archaeological Complex in the Chicama Valley. Currently he directs a multi-disciplinary study of a 16th-17th century colonial town and church complex, Sta. Magdalena de Cao, Viejo, at El Brujo. Quilter has curated or co-curated numerous exhibitions, including: Storied Walls: Murals of the Americas, co-curated with S. LeBlanc (The Peabody Museum, Harvard, 2009-2010); The Moche of Ancient Peru: Media and Messages (The Peabody Museum, Harvard, 2005-2007); Incidents of Travel: Robert Woods Bliss in Yucatán and Central America, 1935, co-curated with L. Traxler and J. Younger (Dumbarton Oaks, 2002); and The Afterlife of Images, Maya Interpretations of Saints (Dumbarton Oaks, 2001-2002). Additionally, Quilter has published extensively on the archaeology of Peru and Costa Rica, including the following monographs: The Moche of Ancient Peru: Media and Messages (Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum Press, 2010); Treasures of the Andes: The Glories of Inca and Pre-Columbian South America (London: Duncan Baird Publishers, 2005); Cobble Circles and Standing Stones: Archaeology at the Rivas Site, Costa Rica (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2004); and Life and Death at Paloma: Society and Mortuary Practices in a Preceramic Peruvian Village (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1989).