Di Hu - Archaeology and Historical Anthropology of the Andes


I am a broadly trained anthropological archaeologist whose research explores the intersection of landscape and political ecology. I received my Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2016 with the dissertation entitled Labor under the Sun and the Son: Landscapes of Control and Resistance at Inka and Spanish Colonial Pomacocha, Ayacucho, Peru and am currently a Visiting Adjunct Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University’s Hopkins-Nanjing Center. Using a combination of environmental archaeology methods such as geospatial analysis, geochemical analysis, starch grain analysis, and archival research, I investigate how landscape constrains and provides opportunities for collective action, such as the rise of states, coordinated rebellions, and the emergence of new group identities in South America. My research highlights the key role that social landscapes—the organization of social relations over the landscape—play in facilitating collective struggles to control one’s own labor, ritual landscape, and ecological resources.

My dissertation research, supported by a number of federal and foundation grants and fellowships including the Fulbright-Hays, Wenner-Gren, and the Ford Foundation, examined the nature of social movements in the context of colonialism. I documented the impact of Inka and Spanish colonial institutions of labor on identity and social cohesion across landscape. I investigated the long-term social conditions that enabled the conjuncture of local armed revolts and regional-scale rebellions in the late Spanish colonial period in Peru through a combination of archaeological and historical lines of evidence. Popular understandings of resistance overemphasize the role of individual leaders and privileges armed rebellion over everyday forms of non-violent resistance. My research promotes a more bottom-up understanding of these resistance movements as opposed to the focus on leadership. I argued that despite the Spanish government’s emphasis on divide-and-control, workers of diverse backgrounds actively resisted proscriptions against inter-caste mixing. The workers did so through strategic migration and kinship ties over the regional landscape as well as by creating cosmopolitan moral economies inside labor institutions such as textile workshops. The changes that the workers effected on the social landscape underpinned the coordinated nature of late colonial rebellions. This project received UC Berkeley’s nomination for the 2018 CGS/Proquest Distinguished Dissertation Award in the social sciences. Supported by a Wenner-Gren Foundation Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship, I am writing book manuscript entitled The Fabric of Resistance: Textile Workshops and the Rise of Rebellious Landscapes in Colonial Peru.

My research on textile workshops and rebellious social landscapes is part of my larger scholarly trajectory that explores how various forms of collective action and the physical and ecological aspects of landscape co-evolve. By employing a political geography framework to social landscapes, my research has emphasized the active role of people in the past in their struggles to maintain sustainable livelihoods in the face of colonial exploitation. My contributions to this scholarship, particularly regarding ethnogenesis and landscape archaeology and GIS, have been published in the Journal of Archaeological Research and in Papers from the Institute of Archaeology. Most recently, I have published on how unfree laborers experienced the Inka policy of divided social landscapes, as manifested through restricted access to obsidian exchange networks, in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

My current research, a long-term, five-year community-based archaeology project, seeks to understand how the Inka conquest of Vilcashuamán province changed the landscape of its inhabitants and how the inhabitants may have recreated their landscapes in ways that undermined or bolstered Inka rule. This project compares the pre-Inka hilltop fortress community of Pillucho to the community of coerced transplanted laborers at Yanawilka and investigates the changes in local flora (through environmental reconstruction via coring of sediments from Lake Pomacocha), ritual landscapes, food landscapes, and economic exchange of goods such as obsidian.

In my spare time, I enjoy making art, flint knapping, and film photography.