About

Steve Wernke is Associate Professor and Director of the Spatial Analysis Research LaboratoryDepartment of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University.

I am an archaeologist and historical anthropologist of the Andean region of South America. My research takes place at the intersections of several disciplines: archaeology and history, prehispanic and colonial studies, anthropology and cultural geography. My interests center on the local experiences of imperialism and colonialism on both sides of the Spanish invasion of the Andes–especially how new kinds of communities, landscapes, and religious practice emerged out of successive attempts by the Inkas and the Spanish to subordinate and remake Andean societies in the image of their colonial ideals. Methodologically, my work brings together analyses of archaeological and documentary datasets in  geospatial frameworks. My current archaeological research investigates the mass resettlement of the indigenous communities of the Andes during the Reducción General de Indios (General Resettlement of Indians) of the 1570s, when about 1.4 million native Andeans were forcibly resettled into over a thousand planned colonial towns around the viceroyalty of Peru. I approach this massive experiment in social engineering from macro- and micro-scales: through archaeological investigation of particular reducción towns, and through collaborative interdisciplinary projects aimed at reconstructing viceroyalty-wide shifts in settlement during the Reducción. Most of my archaeological research has been based in the Colca Valley, located in the southern highlands of Peru.

My interdisciplinary, international digital projects are working to build collaborative online platforms for collating archaeological, historical, and ethnographic data. Together with Akira Saito (National Museum of Ethnology, Japan) and Parker VanValkenburgh (Brown University), we are developing two platforms: the Linked Open Gazetteer for the Andean Region (LOGAR) and the Geospatial Platform for Andean Culture, History, and Archaeology (GeoPACHA). LOGAR is an online gazetteer that enables collation of archival and ethnographic information by place (whether or not located in geographic space). GeoPACHA is a browser-based GIS that integrates legacy field survey data, historical aerial imagery, and high resolution satellite imagery to enable virtual archaeological survey over massive areas. These projects have been made possible with the support of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The American Council of Learned Societies, The Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, Brown University, the Vanderbilt Center for Digital Humanities, the Vanderbilt Center for Latin American Studies, the National Museum of Ethnology (Japan), and a Vanderbilt Chancellor’s Faculty Fellowship.

Infrastructural support for these and other projects are provided through my Spatial Analysis Research Laboratory and my Vanderbilt University Trans-Institutional Program: the Vanderbilt Initiative for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Research.