Ethics and the Rhetoric of Friendship in the Yale Peruvian Expedition

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 3:30 PM
Madison Room A (Marriott Wardman Park)
Adam W. V. Warren, University of Washington
During three trips to Peru between 1911 and 1915, the Yale Peruvian Expedition depended on the help of indigenous workers, who often also served as informal research assistants and research subjects. Indeed, working for Hiram Bingham, indigenous people not only provided food and made travel possible across difficult highland terrain in the Cuzco region, but also aided in carrying out excavations of archeological sites, assisted surveys of Andean topography, and sat for anthropometric studies of racial variation and indigenous racial types. In doing so, they helped expedition members pursue their goal of providing a comprehensive scientific study of the Andes and its inhabitants. This paper examines the ethics and practices of the expedition's work by problematizing the rhetoric of friendship, which figured prominently in researchers' field notes, reports, and publications to describe relations with indigenous workers. I argue that in the absence of accepted guidelines to inform and structure the practices of research expeditions, claims of friendship served to mask the widespread exploitation and coercion of indigenous peoples that took place on the ground. Moreover, claims of friendship enabled members to downplay the ways that indigenous people shaped the research process and research outcomes by resisting orders and negotiating the terms of their compliance.
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