Inca architecture is often portrayed as a straightforward design system that is well understood by scholars. Over the centuries, clearly defined categories for discussing its central forms, construction methods, materials, and uses have been developed. An example is the royal Kallanka. This building type has emerged as the most important category used to understand Inca settlements. In this talk, Nair will examine the Kallanka to understand how this and other architectural categories have informed how we understand Inca settlements. In doing so, Nair will show how entangled our interpretations and assumptions of Inca architecture are with colonial spatial practices and contemporary notions of function, creating distinct episodes in the misunderstanding of Inca architecture.
Stella Nair is assistant professor of art history at UCLA and a Michigan Society of Fellows alumnae. Trained as an architect and architectural historian, she has conducted fieldwork in Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, and the U.S. Midwest, with ongoing projects in the South Central Andes. Her scholarly interests include material culture studies, cross-cultural exchange, hemispheric networks, landscape transformations, spatial theory, and construction technology. Her publications explore a range of subjects, such as the design of Inca royal estates, Tiahuanaco stone carving, colonial Andean paintings, and Brazilian urbanism. In support of her research, Nair has received grants and fellowships from the American Philosophical Association, the Center for the Study of the Visual Arts (National Gallery of Art), Dumbarton Oaks, the Fulbright Institute, the Getty Foundation, and the John Carter Brown Library. Nair’s article “Localizing Sacredness, Difference, and Yachacuscamcani in a Colonial Andean Painting” was awarded the distinction as one of thirty two ‘greatest hits’ published in the last hundred years of the Art Bulletin. She is the author (with Jean-Pierre Protzen) of The Stones of Tiahuanaco: A Study of Architecture and Construction (June 2013).