Ms Charlotte Williams (2017)
Before freshman year, I participated in Princeton University’s Bridge Year Program in Urubamba, Peru. During this time I shadowed a group of archaeologists from the Ministry of Culture seeking to protect Inca terraces from both tourists and local farmers alike. This paradox revealed to me the complicated mechanics of heritage; like museum displays with transparent glass, objects and sites are also encapsulated in political motives and legal decrees that remain publicly invisible. These questions motivated me to pursue Anthropology, with certificates in Archaeology, Latin American Studies, and Urban Studies. Through internships at the Penn Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I learned more about creative ways to display history and the complications that arise in doing so. With a research grant I traveled to Peru this fall to explore the aftermath of Yale’s return of artifacts to Cusco after their removal from Machu Picchu in 1911. My research analyzes a new collaborative museum between Yale and the Ministry of Culture, and to unravel the forces that dictate how the story of the artifacts is told. Through an MPhil in Archaeology in the Museum and Heritage Studies track, I hope to better comprehend how heritage politics function in museum practice, and to broaden my understanding of the role of museums both past and present in shaping public perceptions of culture.