The Inca Cloister: A Third-Wave Feminist Study of Archaeology and Ethnohistory

This project is ongoing.

Women in the Inca Empire (c. 1400-1535) dominated the imperial religious hierarchy, and the cloister that trained them (the aqllawasi) was the only state institution that selected and trained promising young people. Dozens of Spanish men described the aqllawasi in the decades after their invasion of the Andes, using a range of conceptual approaches that contradict one another in important ways. This project seeks to develop a solid review of the early Colonial descriptions, integrating it with the only large-scale excavations of an aqllawasi, at the highland administrative center of Huanuco Pampa. The project seeks to develop a third-wave feminist view of the institution, emphasizing the variations in status, ethnicity, and gender that were found within the Inca cloister.


The best candidates will have a strong grounding in feminist theory, as well as either an archaeology background or a strong knowledge of Spanish.

Project Timeline

This research is ongoing, with numerous possible directions for student collaboration. Ideally, a student would commit to more than one semester of volunteer research, possibly culminating in an independent study or honors project building on project resources.


There are several possible areas for student participation. A student with a strong theoretical background could contribute to preparing the literature review for a collaborative journal article. A student with strong Spanish background could work on transcribing Colonial sources, while one with good archaeological knowledge might assist in preparing descriptions of excavation contexts in the Huanuco Pampa aqllawasi. A student with skills in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop could assist with preparing figures for monographs and articles.

Typical Time Commitment
Desired Length of Commitment


The Office of Undergraduate Research recommends that you attend an info session or advising before contacting faculty members or project contacts about research opportunities. We'll cover the steps to get involved, tips for contacting faculty, funding possibilities, and options for course credit. Once you have attended an Office of Undergraduate Research info session or spoken to an advisor, you can use the "Who to contact" details for this project to get in touch with the project leader and express your interest in getting involved.

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