June 07, 2008
Live blogging the UCLA/Getty Storage Symposium (part 3)
Ran Boytner represents the people of the UCLA/Univ. of Chile Tarapacá Valley Project. He goes into the history of the linkage of archaeology and politics, starting with Thomas Jefferson, the first archaeologist in the US (also occupied the less important job of US president). The Mapuche were one of the few indigenous groups that was able to resist the Spanish occupation and are iconic in Chile. The War of the Pacific (late 19th century) gained Chile a part of Bolivia on the northern coast. "Chilenization" of the local people in this new territory has not been very successful. The Pinochet coup, likely supported by the US, changed the situation again: the remaning opposition was Communist inspired. Anthropologists allied with them, promoting indigenous rights and reclaiming their history (social archaeology). His project now is in the Atacama Desert, in the one valley that can support human population. The high point of the area was in the 1st mill. AD, later it was included in the Inca empire and then conquered by the Spaniards. Nowadays it is almost deserted. They wanted to have a local museum to store the artifacts, local indigenous people were OK with it, but the centralized archaeological authorities in Santiago didn't allow it. They had political problems with it, saw it as a "recolonization by the Americans." They are now the only foreign-led project in Chile (except for the Easter Island one which is rather unique).
By the way, yesterday we went to the Getty Villa in Malibu and were given a tour of the excellent, new facilities of the UCLA/Getty Archaeological and Ethnological Conservation Program. Then we were treated to a reception in the scenic courtyard in front of the facility. I talked to many interesting colleagues and learned a lot.