Véronique Bélisle

Véronique Bélisle

Associate Professor of Anthropology

BS, MS, Université de Montréal; PhD, University of Michigan

“Interacting with each and every student is one of my most rewarding experiences, and I am excited to teach anthropology and archaeology at Millsaps. I teach in the classroom but also across the street and around the globe, and I take every opportunity to include hands-on activities and go on field trips with students. We visit archaeological sites around Mississippi, take a tour at a plantation, or participate in an archaeological excavation in Peru where I conduct research.

“My first anthropology class at the Université de Montréal, where I did my undergrad, was an eye-opener; it exposed me to the cultures, beliefs, customs, languages, and origins of different human populations around the world. I try to provide the same experience for my students because I think that an informed appreciation and understanding of other cultures – past and present – is fundamental in our contemporary globalized world. In the classroom and in the field, I hope to open the students’ mind to practices and customs that may be different from their own.

“As an anthropological archaeologist I am interested in the impact of expansionist states and empires on the daily lives of the members of local communities. I have been exploring this theme in the Andes of South America since 1999. My current research takes place in Cusco in the southern highlands of Peru. Cusco was the capital of the Inka empire, but it is also a key location for understanding the expansion of the earlier Wari state. Wari colonists migrated to the area and constructed large settlements during a period spanning from AD 600 to 1000. Most research in Cusco has focused on these large Wari installations, leading many scholars to conclude that Wari administrators established direct imperial control over the region. My research takes a complementary “bottom-up” approach and documents how local communities experienced Wari state expansion and how exchange with Wari colonists and others contributed to increasing social inequality in the region. So far, results show that daily life was little affected by Wari presence, although it provided new opportunities that local leaders used to enhance their own prestige. During the summers I invite students to participate in my research project in Peru. We excavate at the archaeological site of Ak’awillay near the city of Cusco and do lab work to inventory our findings. Cusco is famous for its many touristic attractions including the large Inka site of Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and its friendly people, good food, and fabulous landscapes. Throughout the summer students gain hands-on experience in archaeology, discover many facets of Peruvian culture, and even learn a few phrases in Spanish. It is a unique experience studying and living abroad.”

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