The Gustavian Weekly

University of Minnesota Professor gives Inka Empire lecture: Professor Kosiba brings enlightening cultural context Gustavus | The Gustavian Weekly

By Elsa Beise - Staff Writer | October 18, 2019 | News

On Monday, Oct. 14, Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota Steve Kosiba visited campus to present a lecture titled “The Weight of a Mountain: The Politics of Landscape and History in the Inka Empire.”

This event was sponsored by the Spanish Honor Society, Sigma Delta Pi, the LALACS department and the department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures (MLC). The lecture focused around educating attendees about the Inca empire, culture, history and politics.

Professor Kosiba is currently conducting two research projects around the Inca, involving him traveling to the Incan empire’s capital of Cuzco, Peru. On top of the research that Professor Kosiba has conducted, he has also written multiple articles on political theories and the relation between material things and their contribution to social action, both in modern and historical times. These projects have been funded from many foundations, including the National Geographic Society.

Sigma Delta Pi has been involved in planning lectures on campus before.

“Each year Sigma Delta Pi selects a speaker to come to campus to talk about a topic related to Hispanic and Latino studies,” Co-President of Sigma Delta Pi Amelia Espinosa said.

The organization also hosts other events throughout the year.

“We put on several events throughout the year, including lectures like Dr. Kosiba’s and cooking and dance events,” Co-President of Sigma Delta Pi Katelyn Yee said.

Yee was eager to find an exciting speaker with experience doing research.

“With the help of our advisor, Ana Adams, we reached out to potential speakers last semester who lived in the area and could share their experiences studying or living within another culture…It was really cool to hear from someone who lived in the culture for years and has that firsthand experience. I also think his lecture was unique in that it combined multiple disciplines–anthropology and history, especially,” Yee said.

Espinosa helped to plan this event (alongside MLC Professor and advisor of Sigma Delta Pi Ana Adams) and introduced the speaker. She was excited to be able to help to offer more information to students about topics that they may not have time to get to in the classroom.

“She spoke about how a lot of times many Spanish classes have so much to cover that there is little mention of indigenous groups, especially in the beginning Spanish courses. Thus, with our selection of a speaker, the goal was to provide an opportunity for a more holistic view of the latinx experience,” Espinosa said. The lecture was purposefully scheduled for Indigenous Peoples Day, highlighting the importance of learning about indigenous cultures in the Americas.

Professor Adams echoed this sentiment, adding the significance of building connection and relationship between cultures.

“One of the mission points of this student org is to organize activities of learning about the culture of Spanish-speaking countries.  By providing education and understanding, this student organization aims to foster friendly relations and mutual respect between the nations of Hispanic speech and those of English speech,” Professor Adams said.

Yee was appreciative of the information in the lecture and how the Inca Empire thought about life.

“The topic by itself seems very distant to our community here at Gustavus, but it was so enlightening to learn about an entirely new way of thinking about history, time, and place. I think Dr. Kosiba’s lecture opened our minds to this new worldview and can help us become more understanding and accepting of others’ ways of life and beliefs,” Yee said.

This lecture was a unique experience for Gustavus to be able to host due to the scarcity of professionals in the specific topic.

“There are not many experts in our state on Inca culture.  We are lucky that Professor Kosiba is willing to come to share more about his research findings and educate us about Inca culture,” Professor Adams said.

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