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Mary Weismantel

Professor, Department of Anthropology

Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1986

Mary Weismantel (Department of Anthropology) is a cultural anthropologist who writes about indigeneity in the Americas, with a focus on Andean South America (Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia). For undergraduates, I teach courses on [trans]gender, sexualities, race and racism, as well as Pre-Columbian art and Native peoples of the Americas. At the graduate level, my courses engage animisms and indigeneity; decoloniality and new materialisms; and the politics methods, and aesthetics of ethnographic writing.

Her research consistently has engaged with indigeneity, materiality and the nonhuman.  Her earliest work explored issues of gender, race and class in an indigenous community of highland Ecuador through an ethnography of food and cooking. Her best-known work, Cholas and Pishtacos, took on the intersection of Indian and white, masculine and feminine, race and sex in jokes, stories and novels -- and in objects like postcards and hats.  Her current work concerns the ontologies and temporalities of ancient indigneous objects in twenty-first century places including museums and World Heritage sites, as well as in a proliferation of online avatars.  This work also engages the queerly nonhuman: some of these objects are small ceramic sculptures of humans and nonhumans having sex; others are large stone monoliths of monstrous multispecies hybrids.

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