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Steve Wernke

Associate Professor

Director, Spatial Analysis Research Lab

Department of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University

I am an archaeologist and historical anthropologist of the Andean region of South America. My research takes place at the intersections of several disciplines: archaeology and history, prehispanic and colonial studies, anthropology and cultural geography. My interests center on the local experiences of imperialism and colonialism on both sides of the Spanish invasion of the Andes–especially how new kinds of communities, landscapes, and religious practice emerged out of successive attempts by the Inkas and the Spanish to subordinate and remake Andean societies in the image of their colonial ideals. Methodologically, my work integrates analyses of archaeological and documentary datasets in GIS-based spatial frameworks.  My current archaeological research investigates the mass resettlement of the indigenous communities of the Andes during the Reducción General de Indios (General Resettlement of Indians) of the 1570s, when about 1.4 million native Andeans were forcibly resettled into over a thousand planned colonial towns around the viceroyalty of Peru. I approach this massive experiment in social engineering from macro- and micro-scales: through archaeological investigation of particular reducción towns, and through a collaborative interdisciplinary project aimed at reconstructing viceroyalty-wide shifts in settlement during the Reducción. Most of my archaeological research has been based in the Colca Valley, located in the southern highlands of Peru.