Claire Maass

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Stanford U.

Grant number

Gr. 9704

Approve Date

October 5, 2018

Project Title

Maass, Claire K., Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Bioarchaeological Perspectives towards African Slavery on Catholic Estates in Colonial Peru,' supervised by Dr. Barbara Voss

CLAIRE K. MAASS, then a graduate student at Stanford University, Stanford, California, received funding in October 2018 to aid research on ‘Bioarchaeological Perspectives towards African Slavery on Catholic Estates in Colonial Peru,’ supervised by Dr. Barbara Voss. Studies of African slavery in colonial Peru often cite the ‘better’ or more ‘tolerant’ treatment of enslaved laborers by Catholic landowners in comparison to secular estates. Such claims are grounded in the belief that the religious ethics of Catholic slaveholders would have led them to be more benevolent in their treatment of enslaved laborers. The effect of such assumptions has been to perpetuate a narrative that a more benign form of enslavement might have existed’a narrative that not only flattens historical interpretation, but also minimizes personal experiences of subjugation and trauma. This project attempts to respond to this discourse on empirical and conceptual grounds. As the first bioarchaeological investigation of an enslaved Afro-descendant population in Peru, it aims to provide evidence that can be used to evaluate the conditions of enslavement on colonial plantations owned by the Catholic Church. It also reexamines analyses that comparatively evaluate experiences of enslavement as ethically problematic, particularly in their potential to minimize the violence and hardships endured by enslaved communities. As an alternative, this project aims to use a localized perspective, with the objective of building a narrative that more closely captures the lived experiences of enslaved communities themselves.