Claire Maass

Community-Based Archaeology; Bioarchaeology and Social Justice; African Diaspora Archaeology; Latin America; Peru

My research integrates bioarchaeological and community-engaged methods in order to investigate histories of African enslavement in Peru, and their legacies for Afro-descendant communities in the present. In 2009, the Peruvian government officially apologized to its citizens of African descent for the discrimination enacted against from the colonial period to the present. While this gesture initiated a long-awaited process of addressing the marginalization of the Afro-descendant population in Peru, it has yet to be translated into meaningful reform. Confronting the exclusion of Afro-Peruvians in narratives of national history, heritage, and identity is a critical step towards affecting this change. Recognizing that archaeology is widely valued in Peru as a powerful tool for cultivating historical knowledge and valorizing cultural heritage, my dissertation investigates Afro-Peruvian pasts from a material perspective. As the first bioarchaeological investigation of African enslavement in Peru, it ultimately hopes to contribute a new perspective towards this largely understudied chapter in Peruvian history, and its lasting impacts on Afro-descendant communities today.

Before coming to Stanford, I studied Anthropology and Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of Chicago. While at Chicago, I spent two years working with the Vitor Archaeological Project in the coastal valleys of southern Peru. This experience formed the basis for my undergraduate honors thesis, and has strongly informed my doctoral dissertation research.