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Alexandra Macheski, 2019 SSRC Recipient Conducts Summer Fieldwork in Peru

Alexandra and Shipibo textile artist, Silvia on the bank of the Amazon River, Iquitos, Peru, August 2019.
October 28, 2019

Alexandra Macheski conducted field research in Lima, Cusco, and Iquitos, Peru, during the Summer of 2019 as an SSRC recipient for pre-dissertation research. While there, Macheski explored questions of why and how the Inka “othered” the Amazon to better understand how structures of alterity shift and reshape Indigenous identities in a colonial context. To do so, Macheski spent time in museum collections, most notably at the Museo Larco, looking at how jungle imagery is used within Inka material culture. 

As a counterbalance to how the Inka understood the Amazon, Macheski also investigated how contemporary Amazonian artists respond to the present realities of these histories. While in Peru, Macheski conducted interviews with Amazonian painters Christian Bendanyán, Henry Pinedo, Rember Yahuarcani, and Brus Rubio on how their art responds to a history of colonization and extraction. She also held conversations with Shipibo textile artists to explore the ways in which Indigenous artists are responding to new types of extraction, such as shamanic tourism.

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