DRCLAS: "Priestesses, Queens, 'Mandonas' and Witches: 1000 Years of Transformative Female Power on the North Coast of Peru"


Monday, April 11, 2016, 6:00pm


CGIS South S-216, 1730 Cambridge St., Cambridge

Lecture by Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, RFK Visiting Professor in Latin American Studies, Harvard University

High status burials featuring females embodying the identity of priestesses in the Pre-Columbian Moche liturgy have been found consistently in the north coast of Peru, dating as early as 600 A.D. By Lambayeque times (A.D. 950) elite females seem to have been elevated to the status of Queens, and buried alongside male rulers. Female power was probably extended to the community level, and by the XVI century, when the Spanish Conquistadores took control of this region, female communal leaders, known as Capullanas and Mandonas were ubiquitous. Spanish rule sought to undercut their power and community support through a final transformation of their identities, emphasizing their roles as healers, witches and lascivious women.

Luis Jaime Castillo Butters is a Professor of Archaeology at the Pontifícia Universidad Católica del Perú, where he was also Dean of International Relations and Studies from 1994-2010. He recently served as the Vice-Minister of Culture for Peru. Dr. Castillo has been the Director of the San José de Moro Archaeological Program on the north coast of Peru from 1993 to the present. He has held a fellowship in Pre-Colombian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, as well as fellowships with the National Geographic Society, the Backus Foundation, and the Kaufman/Atwood Foundation. During the Spring 2016 semester he is teaching in the Department of Anthropology.

*1730 Cambridge St., Cambridge. Visit our website or contact Edwin Ortiz for more information