News & Events

Visual Arts Alumna Pilar Rau '96 At URCAD
Pilar Rau to give URCAD Keynote Address & Research Talk
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 // 12:00 PM
University Center Room 312

Visual Arts Alumna Pilar Rau will be giving the keynote address at UMBC's 17th Annual Research and Creative Achievement Day, Wednesday April 24, 2013. Her address will be at 12 PM in the University Center, Room 312.

Pilar will also be giving a talk on her research titled Trade Networks and Tourist Messiahs at 2 - 4 PM that afternoon in room PAHB 216.

Pilar K. Rau (Ph.D. candidate in Socio-cultural Anthropology, New York University UMBC B.A. with a double major in Visual Arts (Painting and Art History and Theory) and Modern Languages and Linguistics '96 and M.A. in Intercultural Communication 2001).

Pilar K. Rau is a Ph.D. candidate in Socio-cultural anthropology and a graduate of the Program in Culture and Media at New York University. She currently teaches Anthropology at Hunter College and New York University. She is a Latin Americanist whose research interests include anthropology of art and aesthetics, economic anthropology, media production, and, most recently, Pentecostal Christianity.

ABSTRACT OF THE TALK: Trade Networks and Tourist Messiahs

In the late 1990s, following the war between the Peruvian government and Shining Path insurgents, I found Mantaro Valley peasant villages where nearly every resident made crafts for tourists despite the fact that they had been isolated from their intended audience for nearly a decade. An artisan too young to remember the Golden Age when backpackers frequented the region and the Peace Corp helped them market crafts to foreigners, told me they continued making handicrafts because, My father always told us one day the tourists will return. In 2007, the pastor of a Pentecostal congregation comprised of migrants from this village that had moved to Cuzco to establish more direct contact with tourists, refers to God, sometimes called King of Kings as the Turista de los touristas. Many communities across the Andes anxiously await the day turistas will visit, bringing development and material prosperity; many have also experienced unprecedented numbers of conversions to Evangelical Protestantism. This paper considers the case of a Mantaro Valley community's commitment to the production of tourist art in an attempt to create social ties with powerful foreigners that represent links to a paradisiacal world outside Peru. Their interactions with and ideation about tourists resembles the strategies by which its Pentecostal congregations attempt to network with God - a different kind of foreigner who multiplies offerings, heals illnesses, and, in general, enables them to radically change their lives and transform themselves into a different kind of person - through sacrifice, aesthetic production, and commodity exchanges.