In 2010 I was just starting my Master's program at the University of Southern California and had no idea that the film project I decided to pursue, as part of my education in Visual Anthropology, would end up being a 10 year long obsession. Yet, here we are in 2020 and I'm still working on the world UNESCO archaeological site called Saqsaywaman. It's been an honor to work with the Ministry of Culture, the various people who live in the communities of Fortaleza, Pucara and Huayllarqocha. I have grown to love this culture and these amazing descendants of the Inca culture. I have established friendships, professionals relationships, and I've come to know Saqsaywaman and Cusco like I know my beloved California.
As we start 2020, I feel such a sense of gratitude for the gift of being able to work at Saqsaywaman. There are so many people to thank, so many doors that have opened, challenges that have been overcome. My heart swells as I think of all the people who have supported me in so many ways.
Just to remind everyone and those new to this blog, these communities live on an active archaeological site, and end up having conflicts about building and modernizing their communities when the Ministry wants to preserve the site for humanity. We have been using our camera to tell their stories and mediate through film. The Ministry recognized us in 2019 for the importance of the work we've done to generating a situation now where conflicts are resolved more easily...most of the time. To read more about our overall research goals, you can see some of the earlier blog posts.
In 2020, I am going to give Fernando a video camera and teach him how to use it so he can become my local cameraman. His daughter also wants to learn filmmaking, so giving them this equipment will enable the whole family to take steps into a new future documenting their community and, possibly, a new revenue stream.
Then, much to my surprise, the National Geographic scholar Peter Frost asked to join our team in 2019! Wow, I am so honored to be working with Peter and will be spending quite a bit of time with him in 2020.
Over the years many other people (Becky Roth, Erika Roys, Nancy Lutkehaus, and Kara Cooney) have helped me with logistics, translations, and crucial mentoring. And of course John Pollini at USC for his frequent advice and emotional/financial support. John has had me teach a class during one of his courses at USC which has been fun and an invaluable academic experience.
And my friends back home in Monterey, Carmel and all over the world deserve a BIG thanks for keeping me believing in my dream to continue working in Peru, especially given health challenges from 2012 to 2018. Can't even thank them all enough...you know who you are.
Special recognition goes to ALL the people and organizations who have donated to this project over the years! I've been self-funding this research since 2010 and I could not have done it without the help of friends and colleagues who have contributed along the way. Special thanks to Susie and Charly Franklin and the Franklin Legacy Fund for their support in 2019. And to The Global Purpose Group and Bodhi Garrett for getting us started on getting our non-profit status. That process is now underway and we will have our 501(c)(3) by end of 2020. A list of all our founding donors can be found on our Donations tab. I want to thank each and every one of our donors! We reach our financial goals one donor at a time.
I leave today, January 2nd, to go back to Saqsaywaman for 5 weeks. The goals during this trip are to do several tasks:
Adios! Stay tuned as I'll be posting a blog weekly!
Maren Elwood is a visual anthropologist and founder of On-Site Expeditions...a field school that will provide scholarships to aspiring heritage professionals. The first field school session will be in January 2020.