1 Nov 2023 16:00 - 18:00 Online & McDonald Institute, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3ER


An event by the Multi-Dimensional Dialogues of the Americas research network


  • Beatriz Marin-Aguilera (University of Liverpool)
  • Francisca Moya (Universitat de Barcelona)


Beatriz Marin-Aguilera (University of Liverpool)
‘Transitioning: Bodies, Matter and the Spanish Colonial Gaze in Chile’

This paper explores how Mapuche women, machi (shamans) and machi weye (transgender shamans) activated and staged the emotional and healing affordances of plants in the Wallmapu between the 16th and 19th centuries. The Mapuche’s cosmovision was a world-in-formation in which different systems of knowledge — botany, medicine, textile making and dyeing, religion — flowed, related, mixed, and mutated in the hands of women and machis. In such a world, colour acted as a bonding principle of the multi-sensorial experience of the Mapuche, bringing together visual and tactile worldliness as well as embodied material and spiritual practices. Dyes operated a polychrome meshwork in which objects, fluids, plants, animals, landscapes, and beings were deeply interwoven. By combining the study of Spanish chroniclers, ethnographic accounts, archaeobotanic evidence, and textile remains, this paper brings to the forefront the agency of Mapuche women and machis in successfully challenging Spanish patriarchy and gender binary, Western medicine, and imperial agendas.

Francisca Moya
‘Women in the Institutionalization of Chilean Archaeology (1960-1980)’

Gender and feminist archaeologies are relatively underdeveloped as theoretical approaches in South American countries, notably in Chile, where women are infrequently acknowledged in archaeological discourse. Additionally, women remain underrepresented in discussions about the history of the discipline within the country. To shed light on this phenomenon, we conducted interviews with some of Chile’s earliest formal archaeology students, a majority of whom were women. Our objective was to gain insight into their personal histories, challenges, and accomplishments, with the aim of understanding their experiences and highlighting their contributions to the discipline. We will present some results of the interview analysis in relation to the social and political landscape in which the institutionalization of the archaeological discipline occurred. We seek to reflect on the primary constraints they faced, which were intricately linked to the military coup of 1973 and the ensuing dictatorship. This political context significantly shaped their lives and the future outcome of Archaeology and Social Sciences within the country.

Michaelmas term theme:

En(d)gendered Extractions: Confronting the Ends and Means of Gender in the Americas

Is it time to end the gendering of the past? This series tackles gender in the Social Sciences and Humanities at a critical moment in STEM and SHAPE studies when movements to disrupt and decolonise conceptual frameworks butt against prevailing wisdoms and status quo sentimentalities. Anchored in archaeological questions but pulling in the wider academic discourse, we will ask: how can continued Gender Studies reveal the multicultural past and affect new research outcomes? Organised into four sessions and featuring experts in current-wave Americas research, we will examine the triumphs and foibles of gendered binarity approaches, reductive modelling, social and ethnic inconsistencies, and transformative methodologies that have revealed the dynamic relationships among people, communities and objects. We begin with a round-table discussion in conversation with the provocative Black Trowel community, who are seeking to end misguided interpretations of gendered bodies and rituals. This will be followed by three focused sessions to deepen our comparative framing and lead to interdisciplinary approaches. The larger purpose is to enable and inspire collaboration among our invited specialists and the academic audience, and in so doing increase research network development and engagement. Comparative examples will showcase the topic’s significance and dataset sharing throughout will help foster publication and collaboration, furthering the discussion. As a constructive platform for deconstructing a variety of gender ideologies, diversifying perspectives and identifying meaning, we also hope to welcome dissident voices to check assumptions and the status quo, engendering further decolonial approaches to shape for Americas research.

For enquiries please contact the Research Networks Programme Manager.

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