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Formative Cosmovisions: Representation, Transformation, and Centrality

Peter Kaulicke, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, Fellow 2010–2011

I began searching for comparative material concerning the Mesoamerican Formative period as the topic was the subject of several events and publications at Dumbarton Oaks and the library holds an important collection of pertinent books and papers. This search and a paper I wrote for the most recent issue of the Boletín de Arqueología PCUP helped me to focus on a number of more direct problems such as the use of color in monumental architecture and its logic as background and motif markers. Another important problem was the use of metaphors and the nature of representations known as hybrids—including composite anthropomorphs—fundamental for the understanding of Formative-period representational systems. Still another problem was the interrelation of notions of centrality, its use in terms of territory, landscape, interaction spheres, and central places. The library again was of much use for me in all these aspects. I was able to write several chapters of the book I intend to publish and trace the outlines of the rest of it.

I gave several lectures, one at the Dumbarton Oaks Museum on my research on the Peruvian south coast (Pieced Together: A Dumbarton Oaks Textile's Provenance Revealed after Fifty Years, April 6) and on my research topic at the Peabody Museum at Harvard (April 22). On May 10, I presented a lecture at the Peruvian Embassy (Toward an Understanding of Early Worldviews) organized by the Pre-Columbian Society of Washington, D.C. A more informal talk was held at the home of Jeffrey Splitstoser, president of the Pre-Columbian Society, with the members of the Huaca Club.

I also had the opportunity to look at important materials housed at the Pre-Columbian collections at Dumbarton Oaks, the Textile Museum, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the American Indian. I also had the opportunity to see material in the Penn Museum, the Peabody Museum at Harvard, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. I also had conversations with the researchers at these institutions as well as many others.

Therefore, I think my time at Dumbarton Oaks served me well in my proposed research project thanks to the offered facilities as well as to the efficient and gentle help of all the people attending us at Dumbarton Oaks.