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Chinchorro in the Context of the Cultural and Environmental History of Pre-Columbian Arica in Northern Chile

Calogero Santoro, Universidad Tarapacá de Arica, Fellow 2009/10

The opportunity to enjoy reading, thinking, and writing was enriched by the magic of Dumbarton Oaks through its staff, research infrastructure, and interactions with a broad spectrum of fellows from the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. This intellectual milieu helped to deepen and widen my research plans, which have developed into an ambitious book proposal for Cambridge University Press, currently under review. This book will be a comprehensive overview of the prehistory of the Atacama Desert in the southern Andes, focusing on the Chinchorro culture. Preliminary research for the book has already taken shape in the form of six co-authored articles published since September. These journal articles and chapters in edited volumes address such topics as the peopling of the Atacama (13,000 years BP); the introduction of new populations, cultigens (manioc), and prestige goods such as feathers from the Amazonian tropical forest (ca. 4,000–2,000 years BP); and the interactions of the local population with imperial expansionist states such as the Tiwanaku and Inka, covering the last 2000 years of the cultural processes in the Atacama. I also submitted two grant proposals, the results of which are still pending. Aside from my research report, I presented three talks at U.S. universities, and a final lecture will be delivered at the Chilean Embassy just a few days before my departure. This wonderful experience was enhanced by friendships with people at Dumbarton Oaks, which will last forever like my memories that are already part of a vivid past that I am starting to miss.

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