50 years of CAS (1969-2019)

Professor Douglas Juan Gifford (1924 – 1991) founded CAS in 1969 as the Centre for Latin American Linguistic Studies. The centre had been a long-standing dream of his, inspired by the St Andrews Survey Expeditions to Peru that he organised and led in 1965, 1967 and 1969.

In 1968, Gifford appointed Leslie Hoggarth to teach Quechua at St Andrews, which was the only university at the time where an Andean language could be studied. Hoggarth’s daughter Pauline became Gifford’s doctoral student, writing a thesis on Quechua/Spanish bilingualism in Calca, Peru and co-authoring Carnival and Coca Leaf with Gifford. After Hoggarth’s retirement from St Andrews in 1972, Joe Shelley and Lindsey Crickmay, both former students of Gifford, taught Quechua at St Andrews.

Professor Tristan Platt came to St Andrews in 1988 to ‘re-found’ CLALS as the Institute of Amerindian Studies (IAS). With the support of Ladislav Holy, the Head of the newly instituted Department of Social Anthropology, Platt moved IAS fully into Social Anthropology. As Director of IAS, Platt maintained a half time post in IAS, teaching Quechua and directing the publications, seminars, workshops and other events for the Centre, whilst fulfilling a half time post in Social Anthropology.

Platt had studied classical languages, history and philosophy for his MA, and then took a two year conversion course in Social Anthropology at the LSE before living among the Macha Ayllu in northern Bolivia from 1970 – 1971. He returned to the Andes for ten years between 1973 and 1983m writing, publishing and re-visiting the “field” and the “archive.” Before coming to St Andrews, Platt worked with the University of Tarapacá; the National Museum of Ethnography in La Paz; on a World Bank funded project on peasants and markets in La Paz; at the Institute of Peruvian Studies (Lima) and the National Archive of Bolivia on mining and economic space; and on an ESRC-CNRS Franco-British research project on the state in the Andes.

During his tenure at St Andrews, Platt directed dozens of doctoral students while conducting new research with funding from the British Academy, the Spanish Ministry of Education, the Guggenheim Foundation, and other organisations. In 2009, the Centre was renamed the Centre for Amerindian Studies (CAS); the remit of the Centre was expanded to include Latin American and Caribbean studies. A partial list of Platt’s publications includes:

Estado boliviano y ayllu andino: tierra y tributo en el Norte de Potosí, Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1982.

Los guerreros de Cristo: cofradías, misa solar y guerra regenerativa en una doctrina surandina (siglos XVIII – XX). La Paz: Ediciones ASUR 5. 1996.

Qaraqara-Charka: Mallku, Inka y Rey en la ‘Provincia de Charcas’ (siglos XV-XVII) (with Thérese Bouysse and Olivia Harris), La Paz: Institut Français d’Etudes Andines/University of St Andrews, 2006.

The Weak and the Strong: Monetary policies, spheres of exchange, and crises of trust in 19th century Potosí. St Andrews: IAS, 2008.

Professor Joanna Overing (1938 — present) came to St Andrews in 1995 as a member of the Department of Social Anthropology and as the Director of the Centre, which was renamed the Centre for Indigenous American Studies (CIAS). Overing is an American anthropologist, with a BA and MA in History from the University of Connecticut, and a PhD in Anthropology from Brandeis University. Her extensive fieldwork among the Piaroa people in the Orinoco basin of Venezuela marked an expansion of the Centre into lowland South America.

Beloved by generations of students, Overing has studied egalitarianism, indigenous cosmology, philosophical anthropology, aesthetics, the ludic and linguistics in Amazonia. One of her central interests in Amazonian anthropology is the relationship between egalitarianism and individualism in Amerindian societies. She pioneered the study of “the art of living” or the “aesthetics of everyday life”, revealing how the Western distinction between ethics and aesthetics is irrelevant in a world, such as that of the Piaroa, where people strive for beauty in their social relations with others. Among her publications are:

The Anthropology of Love and Anger: The Aesthetics of Conviviality in Native Amazonia (edited collection with Alan Passes), London: Routledge, 2000.

Social and Cultural Anthropology: The Key Concepts (with Nigel Rapport), London: Routledge, 2000.

ASA Monographs: Vol. 24. Reason and Morality. London: Tavistock Pub.

The Piaroa, a people of the Orinoco Basin: A Study of Kinship and Marriage. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Dr Sabine Hyland (1964-present) was invited to replace Professor Tristan Platt as the Department Andeanist in 2013, becoming Director of CAS and teaching Quechua. An American, Hyland studied Quechua and Cultural Anthropology as an undergraduate at Cornell University, before earning her MPhil and PhD in Anthropology from Yale University, where she was a graduate fellow of the National Science Foundation. The recipient of grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, and the National Geographic Society, she has conducted archival and ethnographic research throughout the Peruvian Andes.

National Geographic’s documentary about her Andean research, “Decoding the Incas”, for their series, Ancient X Files, received the series’ highest rating. Her Andean research has been featured in the popular media, including the Times (UK), BBC Scotland, National Geographic (in English, Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Dutch), Discover Magazine and the Discovery Channel.

Currently, she is working on a project, ‘Hidden Texts of the Andes: Deciphering the Khipus (Cord Writing) of Peru, funded by a three year Leverhulme Research Project

Grant. She is also host to a working group on Native American Philology. Her books include:

The Chankas and the Priest: A Tale of Murder and Exile in Highland Peru. The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2016.

Gods of the Andes: An Early Jesuit Account of Inca Religion and Andean Christianity. State College, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011.

The Quito Manuscript: An Inca History Preserved by Fernando de Montesinos. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press (YUPA). 2007; re-issued in 2010.

Graphic Pluralism: Native American Systems of Inscription and the Colonial Situation (edited collection with Frank Salomon), Special issue of Ethnohistory, Duke University Press, 2010.

The Jesuit and the Incas: The Extraordinary Life of Padre Blas Valera SJ. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2003; paperback 2004/

–Winner of the Donald B. King Distinguished Scholarship Prize (2004).