Anthropology students experience Peru

Three-week special-topics course permits first-hand study of Peruvian culture

Through collaboration with the Centro Tinku study abroad program, NMU students have a unique learning opportunity. From May 31-June 25 2009, ten students from NMU will be traveling to Peru to take a class with Professor Alex K. Carroll, anthropologist and professor of ritual and cultural landscapes, and Dr. Jean-Jacques Decoster, anthropologist and professor of Incan and colonial history. This three week program will serve as a mechanism for studying three critical components of Peruvian Culture: the archaeological legacy of prehistoric societies, including United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites, Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley; the colonial history of Peru, including the survival of ritual landscapes alternately overlooked or tolerated by Spanish conquistadors; and third, the impact of traditional tourism and ecotourism on contemporary Peruvian identities and cultural landscapes. Students will engage in ethnographic research designed to learn about two very different types of tourist impacts on ritual landscapes: the first will document how UNESCO and the Peruvian government is attempting to respond to the physical impact of having up 800,000 tourists visit a world heritage site on an annual basis; the second will begin to examine the sociocultural impacts of a tourist economy on indigenous Peruvian concepts of self as determined through structured and informal interviews. Present and future generations have much to lose when the legacies of ritual landscapes are not adequately studied, preserved, and maintained (e.g. Carroll 2004, 2007; Drost, 1995, Stoffle et al. 2004). As irreplaceable cultural landscapes are destroyed, the need to abate this process becomes progressively more urgent (e.g. Serageldin 2001; Birks 1989).