Andean Archaeology Has a #MeToo Problem [Updated July 4]

Gary Urton (l) and Luis Jaime Castillo (r) at San José de Moro, 2013

The man on the left in this photo is Gary Urton, a noted anthropologist at Harvard University. Urton is a widely recognized expert in Andean cultural and intellectual history, focusing on the pre-Columbian and early colonial periods. He is particularly well known for his work in decoding the Inka recording device, known as the khipu.

On May 29, The Harvard Crimson named Urton and two other Harvard anthropologists in a report on the paper's eight month investigation into sexual harassment in the anthropology department. The investigation was conducted by Crimson student reporter James Bikales. Soon afterwards, numerous members of Urton's department called for his resignation, and Harvard has now put him on leave pending its own investigation.

The man on the right is Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, a powerful and well-known Peruvian archaeologist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP) who received his PhD at UCLA in 2012. Castillo, who was briefly Peru's Minister of Culture, is also an international member of the US National Academy of Sciences and a former grantee of the National Geographic Society.

Castillo is also a close associate of Urton's, over many years. The two men have helped each other out on numerous occasions. For example,  Castillo has been invited as a visiting professor at Harvard, and Urton was until very recently an honorary professor at PUCP. They have worked together at Castillo's signature archaeological site, San Jose de Moro. Indeed, when Science magazine reported the allegations against Urton, its reporter quoted Castillo as a sort of character witness. "...until last week, [Urton] was one of the most respected researchers in the world," Castillo said. Castillo added that "In all field work trips, there has been no incident, no complaints."

But Castillo no longer seems happy with reports about his close association with Urton. The photo above was published in early June by the Peruvian publication Mano Alzada ("Raised Hand"), as part of an article about the close ties between Urton, Castillo, and PUCP. The article included a number of additional indications of the Urton-Castillo relationship. But when Peruvian scholars began to post the story on social media, Castillo had his attorney issue cease and desist letters against them (at least five such letters have gone out, to my knowledge.) And very recently, Castillo's attorney has threatened to bring legal action against this journalist for reporting credible sexual misconduct allegations against Castillo himself.

The allegations against Castillo are very serious. The include serial sexual relationships with students he was directly supervising over many years; bullying and retaliation; severe sexist attitudes, comments, and sexual harassment; and sexual exploitation of students who worked at San Jose de Moro.

I will lay out the allegations against Castillo in detail below. But first, let's delve into the world of Andean archaeology and its abuses, which provides the context for all of the above.

Andean archaeology, rife with abuses.

Peruvian archaeologist Enmanuel Gomez Choque

I first became involved with reporting on abuses in Andean archaeology, and specifically misconduct that had taken place in Peru, when a group of researchers alerted me that University of California, Santa Barbara archaeologist Danielle Kurin was returning to teaching and research at the university after a three year administrative leave. The leave was a result of her being found in a Title IX proceeding to have retaliated against students who reported sexual harassment by her partner and later husband, Enmanuel Gomez Choque. The harassment (along with sexual assaults by Gomez) took place at Kurin's field school at archaeological sites in and near the Peruvian city of Andahuaylas, and the researchers were very concerned that yet more students would be put in danger.

I reported on these allegations earlier this year. My report almost immediately led to a new group of students getting in touch with me about serious events, including sexual assault by Gomez again, that took place at Kurin's 2018 field school in Peru. My reporting on these later events had a number of knock on effects, including the termination of the head of the Institute for Field Research, which had sponsored Kurin's 2018 field school. As many readers of this blog will know, Kurin has now sued me for defamation, demanding $18 million in damages--a completely bogus action that I intend to defend against vigorously on freedom of the press grounds (also the grounds that I stand by my reporting.)

With the Urton revelations, it became more clear that the small world of Andean archaeology had endemic problems involving sexual harassment and other abuses of students. Shortly after the Crimson article was published, a new witness, Jade d'Alpoim Guedes, came forward to relate that she had been propositioned by Urton in almost exactly the same way as a victim described in Bikales' reporting. Guedes later gave interviews to both the Crimson and Science in which she elaborated on her experiences.

"I will no longer be silent"

The late John Janusek

Several days after the revelations about Gary Urton were first published, a former graduate student at Vanderbilt University, Randi Stevens, posted on Facebook about a nearly three year long relationship she had had with the late John Janusek, a highly respected anthropologist and Andean archaeologist at the university (I am posting the Facebook link with permission.) "I will no longer be silent," Stevens wrote, and then proceeded to describe the relationship. Stevens related that Janusek had been abusive to her, and also apologized for having lied to colleagues about it. But, she added, "many of you, my friends and colleagues were silently complicit" in the inappropriate relationship. "I forgive," she added. "You were put in an awkward position. But, you did remain silent."

This matter is particularly sensitive at Vanderbilt, and in the larger anthropology community, because Janusek took his own life in October of last year. There have been some unfortunate, and I am told largely inaccurate, speculations about why he did so, and I want to express my condolences to his colleagues and my regrets that this issue has to be discussed in this report. But Randi Stevens was not the first student with whom Janusek had an affair, nor was she the last, and those who now see themselves as victims of misconduct have a right to have their voices heard.

"It should never have happened," Stevens wrote. He knew better and John was in the position of power. John hit on me. John initiated." She concludes her Facebook post with five phrases that the anthropology community could well take on board:


Luis Jaime Castillo Butters

Luis Jaime Castillo Butters

On June 2, just a few days after The Harvard Crimson broke the Urton story, I was contacted by a member of a women's collective organized to counter abuses in archaeology, especially in Peru. The core group numbers about 15 members at the time of this writing, including scholars from Peru, North America, and elsewhere. The collective is bolstered by a growing number of other supporters around the world currently numbering in the hundreds.

The member of this collective, a professor, first approached me and told me about Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, former Minister of Culture of Peru and currently elected member of the U.S.'s National Academy of Sciences, describing him as "perhaps the most powerful Peruvian archaeologist" (if not the most powerful.) This professor related that he was not only "a known sexual harasser" who carried on relationships with students but was also well known for being "extremely vindictive and political." The implication was that no one dared to cross him, at least until now. This colleague, an archaeologist, put me in touch with other sources, who in turn introduced me to still others. Still others approached me independently after I made some social media posts about Castillo's alleged misconduct, and more victims, survivors, and witnesses are getting in touch each week.

What follows is based on direct testimony from survivors and other witnesses, as well as corroborative statements from sources who were told about the abuses at or near the time they happened. As always in my reporting, I do not rely on rumors or second hand information. Nevertheless, the sources for this story have chosen to remain unnamed, for obvious reasons. For clarification, not all members of the collective mentioned above are quoted here, and not all of those quoted below are members of this collective.

Castillo has proven his reputation for retaliation by threatening pretty much any colleague in Peru who speaks out about him, as well as this reporter, with legal action. It's no wonder that survivors of abuse are so hesitant to come forward.

It's hard to date when Castillo first began having sexual relationships with students. But this behavior goes back at least to 2003, when Castillo had already started working at San Jose de Moro. According to another source, Castillo had at least two affairs with students while married to his first wife, according to sources who were direct witnesses to the relationships. One was with a student from the University of Trujillo. The other was a French PhD student who was doing her dissertation research in Lima, Peru's capital. The witnesses to these affairs, who worked at San Jose de Moro themselves, also relate that one of Castillo's signature behaviors--encouraging students to drink to excess and constantly commenting on women's bodies--also dates from at least the beginning of the 2000s. Following Castillo's lead, other individuals on his projects at San Jose de Moro and other sites behaved in similar ways, creating a deeply sexist  culture that endures to the present day.

"These behaviors have become normal and normalized, expected and encouraged" in Andean archaeology, says one researcher who worked at San Jose de Moro over a number of years.

Castillo is known to have assisted with the placement of Peruvian students, many who worked under him for a number of years, in top-tier graduate archaeology programs in the United States. A few of my Peruvian sources allege that Castillo tells young students that if they want to attend major universities abroad, like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, he can make it happen if they work for him.

Witnesses allege that Castillo has carried on a longstanding sexual relationship with one such student. This student and his other former students doe not wish to talk about the situation, so I am not naming her to protect her privacy. However, Castillo routinely referred to this student as "mi mujer" ("my woman"), sometimes even to archaeologists who do not know him very well.

Let's now move to some individual, personal stories from students who have worked with Castillo over the years. I will identify them with letters and wish to clarify that the students referred to below are not the same people referenced above. To protect identities as best as possible, I am not including the years the following episodes took place; all of them post-date 2005 and continue until at least the recent past, however.

Student A is a Latina scholar from the United States. While a graduate student at a US university, she became interested in some of the cultural artifacts of an early Andean culture, and traveled to Peru to work at San Jose de Moro at the suggestion of several advisors, who told her that she would have to work with Castillo if she wanted to become an Andean archaeologist.

"I started witnessing a lot of inappropriate behavior and a culture of toxic masculinity reproduced at all levels," she says. "Everyone was sleeping with everyone else, excessive drinking was the norm, and affiliated professors knew about this and cosigned on this behavior." But two aspects of the culture at the archaeological site particularly bothered her: Castillo frequently commented that the women on the site, including her, should wear less clothes while excavating; and the ways in which  Peruvian workers were treated by both Peruvian and American archaeologists working there.

Student A also remembers that a LGBTQIA+ Peruvian student felt particularly targeted by Castillo. The student told her about Castillo's derogatory comments and behavior towards him, mocking him mercilessly and encouraging the other archaeologists to do the same.

Student A confronted other professors and teaching assistants at San Jose de Moro about the general culture promoted on the site. As a result, she says, Castillo retaliated against her and tried to blackball her from working in the country. He told several Andean archaeologists that she was a "troublemaker" and not collaborative in the field. After recognizing that this kind of problematic behavior was endemic to archaeology, she decided to leave the profession and pursue other goals.

"None of what I am sharing with you is a secret," Student A told me. "This is all common knowledge."

Another member of the women's collective explains that Castillo has the power to blackball students and even more senior colleagues, and regularly makes use of it. "We were told this is the person you need to impress and make happy. If you wanted to do anything in Peru, he is the only door."

Professor A was one of Student A's advisors at the university where she attended graduate school. In a telephone conversation in early June, Professor A backed up the above account, telling me that Student A reported all these events to her at the time. "She fought for a long time" to stay in archaeology, the professor says, but ultimately it was futile. "After her second season with Castillo was really when she decided she had enough. She was really upset. She was so excited to go on an archaeology dig. She couldn't stop crying, she couldn't believe that this was the way that archaeology worked."

Student B worked at San Jose de Moro for several years, including the time that Student A was there. She witnessed all of the episodes that Student A relates above, including Castillo's constant sexism and the homophobic mocking of the LGBTIQIA+ student, and the poor treatment of Peruvian workers. She says that she was approached on several occasions by workers asking her to advocate to Castillo on their behalf because they feared retaliation from him and his crew. Although Student B says that she was not the target of intense sexual harassment by Castillo outside of comments about her body and weight and suggestions to wear less clothing, he did cause her some problems that made her work difficult and put obstacles in the way of her obtaining her PhD (to avoid identifying Student B, I am not specifying what those problems were, other than that they indicated vindictive conduct on the part of Castillo.)

Professor B is a member of the women's collective who has known both Student A and Student B for a number of years. Professor B confirms that the two students told her about Castillo's conduct, including the specific episodes related above, soon after they happened. Professor B discussed with me how Castillo became so powerful in Peru in the first place.

"His early connections to US academia, being one of the few Peruvian graduate students in the US at the time, helped him gain power. He cultivated those foreign relationships [for example with Gary Urton at Harvard] and sought out powerful and well-known people in the US to ingratiate himself to." Professor B adds: "Using his powers of access, he is able to draw young archaeologists into his orbit, promising them a future in archaeology."

Student C is a former Peruvian archaeology student who worked at San Jose de Moro only one year. During that time, she told me, Castillo persistently pressured her to go to bed with him, promising her openly that she would be given more responsibility on the dig site if she would do so. Student C rebuffed Castillo, albeit with great difficulty, because she did not feel comfortable telling other students or senior colleagues what was happening ("I was actually terrified," she told me.) Student C left archaeology soon afterwards and had told very few friends her story before she saw my social media posts.

Student D is a former student at the PUCP in Lima, where Castillo teaches. She is also Peruvian. Student D says that while Castillo did not pressure her to sleep with him, he persistently flirted with her--sometimes even in class--and tried to get her to "have a drink" with him outside of class. Student D did have one drink with Castillo, she says, but then managed to avoid him thereafter.

Student E is another US student who worked at San Jose de Moro around the time that Students A and B did. Castillo "really knows how to use his power and how to scare people," she says, referring to Castillo's current legal threats against witnesses as well as his past behavior.

Student E, who describes herself as "a cute white girl," says that she and other female students often wore as little clothes as they felt was decent because of the extreme heat while excavating, often well over 100 degrees F. But Castillo would often urge them to wear even less. One day, she says, she was excavating in shorts and a sports bra when Castillo came up to tell her that some representatives of an organization that was considering giving the project a grant were visiting that day. "I need you to wear that outfit," Student E says Castillo told her, adding that she did what she was told.

On other occasions, Student E says, Castillo would ask her to dress up and dance with male visitors, dignitaries and other notables, who came to San Jose de Moro. "He would also ask me to sit with the men at dinner or lunch and even accompany him to other parties to help entertain," she says.

"I was used as an escort," Student E says. "I was never aggressed, but he pimped me out. He used me in really inappropriate ways." Student E now says that she feels very guilty about what she agreed to do but felt like she had to do it to get ahead, and feels that she was partly to blame for what happened by using it to her advantage and not resisting Castillo's demands.

In addition to the blatant sexual exploitation and retaliatory behavior exemplified in the testimonies above, numerous sources told me about other examples of abuses of power on Castillo's part.

In 2009, for example, Castillo and an American colleague were appointed as co-editors of the journal Latin American Antiquity, published by the Society for American Archaeology (SAA.) After a short time, some archaeologists began to suspect that Castillo was using biased approaches to the peer review process. SAA appointed a small committee, kept secret from all but a handful of individuals (even from the journal's editorial board.) According to an SAA member intimately familiar with what happened, an inquiry found that Castillo was indeed favoring or disfavoring certain researchers and institutions, and he was eased out of the position over the following year (the better to cover the reasons for his removal.)

I also talked to a former student who had been in one of Castillo's classes at PUCP in 2013, when Castillo was vice-minister of culture. "He missed classes a lot in PUCP because due to his travels abroad," the former student told me. "He threatened the class not to complain to the faculty, because if we wanted someday to go outside to do a postgraduate degree, we would need his signature."

Says one North American archaeologist who has worked in Peru for more than a decade: "Luis Jaime's abuses of power have been known to all of us. It is to our shame that none of us have brought it to light until now."

As a result of the allegations concerning Castillo, Urton, and other professors at PUCP, a number of student organizations and other activists in Peru have issued statements condemning sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct. As I mentioned earlier, Castillo, through his attorney, has directly threatened colleagues who speak ill of him, including me. Below I am pasting the letter I received threatening legal action against me--which gives me 24 hours to delete everything I have said about Castillo on social media--followed by some comment from a few colleagues.

 Lima, 23 de junio de 2020

Señor, Michael Balter

Por medio de la presente, me dirijo usted en representación de mi cliente, doctor Luis
Jaime Castillo Butters, para hacer de su conocimiento que mediante este escrito iniciamos
los procedimientos legales contra usted, por los delitos de calumnia y difamación agravada
en base a las afirmaciones falsas que usted realizó contra mi representado a raíz de las
publicaciones aparecidas en su cuenta de Twitter y otras redes sociales de su dominio.

Es posible que en su cultura actos como este sean considerados aceptables. Sin
embargo, en nuestra cultura jurídica la calumnia y la difamación agravada son actos que
afectan el honor y la reputación de la persona y en consecuencia son sancionados por la ley
penal.Los actos delictivos que usted ha efectuado en contra de mi cliente han tenido
repercusión en el ámbito nacional peruano. Consideramos que su actuación al no considerar
nuestra cultura jurídica constituye un actuar con una visión imperialista basada en lo que
podríamos considerar un colonialismo cultural. El Perú tiene un sistema jurídico organizado
basado en la respetable tradición jurídica romanica germánica francesa.

De otro lado, contrariamente a lo que usted ha venido afirmando acerca del proceder
de mi representado, la denuncia por difamación que tramitamos en nuestro sistema jurídico
es el único recurso que le asiste a un ciudadano que ha sido calumniado y difamado de
manera sistemática y pública. La defensa del honor y la reputación no constituyen ningún
acto de hostigamiento o de prepotencia.

En concordancia con el ordenamiento legal de la República del Perú, le remitimos
formalmente la presente carta, para dar inicio al procedimiento judicial correspondiente. El
envió de esta comunicación le da la oportunidad de hacer una retractación expresa, precisa,
detallada y específica de todas y cada una de las acusaciones que ha efectuado sobre mi
representado, por lo que, de acuerdo a ley, se le otorga un plazo de veinticuatro (24) horas
a partir de la recepción de la presente comunicación para hacer de público conocimiento, en
todos y cada una de las redes sociales y medios electrónicos en que usted ha proferido las
afirmaciones delictivas, falsas, calumniadoras y difamatorias, para informar en toda su
extensión y detalle que estas y las afirmaciones de quienes han escrito o comentado en
contra del profesor Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, en sus redes sociales, SON FALSAS y que
su proceder ha tenido como propósito dañar la reputación y el buen nombre de mi

Quiero enfatizar que su retractación no deberá ser genérica, debe consignar la fecha, hora
y el medio electrónico en el medio electrónico que profirió cada afirmación falsa e injuriosa.
Calle Uno N.º 1051, Urb. Córpac, San Isidro
Teléfonos (511) 223-0500, 223-0555
e-mail:, web:

De no hacer pública su retractación y disculpas en el plazo establecido,
procederemos a presentar la denuncia penal ante nuestras autoridades judiciales por los
delitos de calumnia y difamación agravada. De este modo, usted deberá someterse a los
tribunales peruanos para ejercer la defensa que le corresponda.
Asimismo, le informamos que nos reservamos el derecho de iniciar acciones civiles por
daños y perjuicios contra usted y cualquier otra persona que hubiese sido cómplice en la
materialización de los delitos referidos.


Raúl Canelo Rabanal


Titular Estudio Raúl Canelo Abogados

I have not arranged for an English translation of this letter, although I hope to do so for an update on this reporting. Among other sins, the attorney, Raul Canelo, accuses me of having a colonial attitude towards what goes on in Peruvian and Andean archaeology. Some members of the women's collective, who asked to remain anonymous so they too do not get legal threats, prepared the following responses and asked me to post them. I am happy to do so.

Commenter No. 1:

“I find it unsurprising yet ironic that Castillo now deploys the language of U.S. colonial
intervention when he, himself, has been a colonial presence in the field of archaeology. While
working with him on numerous occasions, I heard him referring to local communities in Peru as
'provinciales,' a hugely violent and derogatory word in Peru to racially refer to Indigenous,
non-white populations. It’s really quite comical that Castillo now claims to be a victim of
colonialism, when he himself is white-privileged in Peru.

While in the field, Castillo would routinely take advantage of his power by gaining entry onto
private property in the Jequetepeque Valley by claiming he had a right to do so as Minister of
Culture. He did so before he was even appointed Vice Minister of Culture or Minister of Culture.
He had no respect for the rights of the landowners and wielded his power as he saw fit.

Men like Castillo will use any method they can to silence people in opposition to him -
especially women. Peruvian women have been victims of his predatory practices for a long time,
and his invocation of racism is meant to obfuscate the very real concerns we have with his
sexism and sexual harassment. This is, sadly, a classic example of an anthropologist using his
anthropological training selectively to intimidate witnesses and silence women. Perhaps he has
forgotten that white supremacy is alive and well globally, and that he himself has benefitted from
it as a man with European ancestry (which he happily shares with students).”

Commenter No. 2:

“The letter unfortunately aligns with a common modus operandi in how people often are
threatened or criticism is silenced. Invoking colonialism against a North American journalist is
mirrored by invoking “white” imperial legal traditions in ways that could look intimidating to
Peruvians who are considering coming forward. The Roman and Germanic legal traditions are
actually a study in contrasts, as any legal scholar or student of law knows. Invoking “Roman,
Germanic, French legal traditions,” as if they were one, is rooted in a vague white imperialism.
As an outside observer with no previous professional connection to Castillo, I cannot help but
note that many of privileged backgrounds in Peru invoke their “Peruvianness” to North
Americans, and their “elite” white status to fellow Peruvians. We have to remember the people
whose lives are most destroyed by abuses of power within Peru: Peruvian women and Peruvians
of indigenous descent from the ‘provinces.’”

Commenter No. 3:

Castillo, is a wealthy white man who has benefited from his whiteness and his social class
throughout his life; and has benefited from this privilege through education, his academic career
and in his social and political status. He does not occupy a position of powerlessness.
Throughout his whole life, he has been privileged to attend well known and prestigiously
wealthy educational institutions such as Escuela Inmaculado Corazón and Colegio Santa María
Marianistas, in the K-12 system, and Universities such as Pontificia Universidad Católica del
Perú for his bachelor's degree; and the well recognized University of California - Los Angeles
for his Masters and Doctoral degrees.

Castillo is not a powerless Peruvian nor a powerless man in this world. He has been a part of the
Board of Directors of the Society for American Archaeology, taught in numerous institutions
around the world, such as Harvard, Stanford, Lund, and Bordeaux; creating a set of international
networks that give him much power in Perú. This power, as well as his archaeological prestige,
led him to be the Viceminister of Culture Patrimony and Culture Industries in 2013 and Minister
of Culture in 2019.

His archaeological work has been financed by many different institutions, mostly the University
where he works in Peru (PUCP) and Harvard University in the United States. Other financial
support he has received include Grupo Backus, Peru’s largest beer company, and National
Geographic. These things combined demonstrate that Castillo is not a powerless man, and his
privilege and position in Andean Archaeology are proof of that. Luis Jaime Castillo also forgets
about the intersectionality of his position in this world. Even though this is an international
matter it does not automatically imply a colonial dynamic where he is being oppressed; rather, it
demonstrates that he is using his own colonial power to silence the testimonies of women that
have started to share their stories.

Commenter No. 4:

“By appropriating the narratives and concepts used to fight for social justice, Castillo’s letter is
itself a clear act of colonialism in the intersection of theory and practice. We need to be aware,
ring the bell, and be very conscious of what Castillo means when he puts himself forward as a
powerless male victim of colonial actions and forces. What does he mean when he uses the
historical language used and proposed by brave people who have fought and given their lives to
call out power structures? Is he conscious that in his life, as many people have witnessed, he has
been focused on disempowering people for his own benefit and accumulation? Is he, for the first
time, feeling vulnerable as a white Peruvian and wealthy man, by the accusations of powerless
women? Is this the first time he feels that structures he built are threatening him?

We cannot let this letter and chosen language be accepted as an innocent appeal. It needs to be
placed into context. The reality is that many Peruvians that have felt his multiple avenues of
intimidation - from his body language, his connections with government officials, by his
academic presence, by his judgmental approach (which includes “favors” to others and anger
toward his “enemies”), by his wealthy life that he likes to show off so much, by his “important”
contacts with elite universities where he can get you in or not, by his predatory behaviour. All of
this makes him a white man in Perú and internationally, a status that he himself has worked so
hard to achieve. He is not a victim of colonial power structures; instead he is witnessing how the
power structure has cracked (not completely, but a little bit). As someone who is used to being
on top, he is feeling – perhaps for the first time – vulnerable.”

This is quite obviously an ongoing story, and I will be updating it as time goes on. But it seems clear that Andean archaeology, like other specialties in archaeology and anthropology and the wider academic world beyond, are still in the early stages of ending the abuses that force vulnerable young researchers to either leave their chosen fields or make compromises they come to regret later. We are not at the beginning of this fight, but still not very close to the end of it.

Update: Translation of the letter from Castillo's attorney threatening legal action (with thanks to the translator.)

"I hereby communicate to you on behalf of my client, Dr Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, written notification that we are initiating legal proceedings against you, for the offences of libel and aggravated defamation, based on the false statements that you made against my client via publications appearing on your Twitter account and other social media under your control.
Perhaps in your culture acts of this sort are considered acceptable.  Nevertheless, in our legal culture libel and aggravated defamation are acts affecting the honour and reputation of a person and thus are punished under the criminal law.  The criminal acts that you have committed against my client have had effects in the Peruvian national context.  We hold that your actions, in not considering our legal culture, amount to acting from an imperialist view based on what we might regard as cultural colonialism.  Peru has an organised judicial system based on the respected Roman-Germanic-French legal tradition.
Contrary to what you have asserted about measures taken by my client, the complaint for defamation that we are undertaking in our legal system is the only recourse available to a citizen who has been libelled and defamed in a systematic and public manner.  Defence of one’s honour and reputation are in no way acts of harassment or arrogance.
In accordance with the legal framework of the Republic of Peru, we are sending this letter to you formally in order to initiate the corresponding judicial process.  Delivery of this communication offers you the opportunity to make an express, precise, detailed, and specific retraction of each and every accusation that you have made against my client.  In accordance with the law, you thus are given a period of 24 hours from receipt of this communication to explain publicly, in each and every one of the social networks and electronic media in which you have put forth these criminal, false, libellous, and defamatory statements, that in their full scope and details, these statements, and the supporting comments made by people against Professor Luis Jaime Castillo Butters on their social networks, ARE FALSE and that issuing them was intended to harm the reputation and good name of my client.
I wish to emphasise that your retraction should not be generic; it should indicate the date and time of each false and injurious statement and the electronic medium through which it was issued.
Should you not make public your retraction and apologies within the designated time period, we shall proceed to present the criminal complaint before our judicial authorities for the offences of libel and aggravated defamation.  In this manner, you will be obliged to submit to the jurisdiction of the Peruvian courts to exercise the corresponding defence.
Likewise, we notify you that we reserve the right to initiate civil action for harms and damages against you and against any other person who may have been complicit in commission of the above referenced offences."

Update June 30, 2020: The reaction in Peru.

In the 24 hours since this report was published, both PUCP and a leading student organization have sprung into action with a speed that North American academics should choose to emulate (rather than trying to bury allegations, as so often happens.)

The PUCP Commission Against Sexual Harassment has announced an investigation,  and the Centro Federado de Letras y Ciencias Humanas PUCP--which represents the students at the university--has issued a pronouncement of its own concerns and demands.

A lot of this news has just been reported by the Peruvian publication Mano Alzada ("Raised Hand") in Spanish. Mano Alzada has been out in front of this story despite legal threats from Castillo against anyone who amplifies their stories on social media.

I hope that readers will also have a look at the Comments below, where a lot of interesting things are being said. I am not vouching for every word down there, but  lots of food for thought.

Update July 2: Castillo's PhD at UCLA.

In the comments section below, there has been some discussion of the circumstances under which Luis Jaime Castillo received his PhD at UCLA in 2012. I have not delved into this in any detail, and so I cannot make any comment on it as a reporter. In fairness, however, I did ask Charles Stanish, who was director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA at that time, to comment on the allegations that there were irregularities or favored treatment. I am reproducing his comments in full here. If anyone has information that contradicts this account, they can contact me privately or make new comments below.

Stanish writes:

Castillo was an ABD ("all but dissertation") and not an active student when I arrived at UCLA. He was already living and working in Peru. This is common particularly for foreign students who do not need the Ph.D for their job.

In 2012 he asked to go on active status to submit his doctoral thesis. This is standard practice.  

We checked his file to see who was on his committee from the mid 1990s. It included one dead person, one professor in Europe on sabbatical with no known return date, and one about to retire or who was already retired. We therefore had to reconstitute the committee. This is standard practice.  

We created a committee of the two active Andeanists plus two archaeologists for theory and methods.  This is standard practice and was approved by Grad Division.  

He submitted the drafts to us in Spanish.  This is common practice.  It was an excellent thesis that can be viewed on ProQuest.  I encourage anyone interested to check it out.

We required a live oral defense (this is not normally required and was a burden on Castillo to fly up) so that the other two committee members could hear his presentation and ask any questions that they wanted.  The oral defense was in English. It was very thorough. 

All four members were satisfied with the dissertation and signed.    

The entire process was approved at each step by the Grad Division.  There was no opportunity to give "special favors". 

We four faculty members were just doing our job like we would for any other student in similar circumstances.  We (do) did it all the time. Nothing more, nothing less.

Update July 2, 2020: Is a Peruvian publication covering for Castillo?

A very interesting thing happened today. The Peruvian publication Peru21 posted a story about the accusations against Castillo, largely giving his denials of them (they did link to this blog post, however.) In the original version, which I saw along with several others I have been in contact with, Castillo refers to the student he allegedly referred to as "mi mujer" and correctly named the institution where she studies (a major US university.) Soon afterwards, either he or someone else must have realized that he was essentially outing her, which I did not do out of respect for her privacy (even though I know her identity.) The text was changed from the name of the university to an unnamed institution in the USA.

This is interesting for two reasons. First, Peru21 has now helped correct Castillo's clumsy mistake of outing the student by omitting the name of the student's institution, no matter whose idea it was. Second, Castillo has now essentially admitted that he called the student "mi mujer," thus confirming that he did have a sexual relationship with a student he sponsored for a postgraduate program.

Castillo's accusations that I harassed the student are false. I contact her once, and when she did not respond, I contacted her one last time, as per journalistic convention. She had a communications person at the university she is associated contact me to say she did not want to talk to me, which is of course her right. I did not try to contact her again.

In conclusion: I tried to protect the identity of this student by not naming her institution, although Castillo's colleagues know who she is. Castillo, in his haste to defend himself against the accusations, outed her.

Further update July 3: With the help of an internet sleuth and the Wayback machine, we have been able to figure out what happened re the above issue of identifying the institution of the student being referred to. The Peru21 was first posted online on July 1, not July 2. On July 1, changes were made to the original post, which would have included deleting the specific name of the institution and substituting that she was from an institution in the USA. As I said above, Castillo named the student's institution; someone spotted it (him, the student, a third party?) and had it changed. Castillo outed the student. End of story.

Update July 4: Faculty of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP) express their concerns about the misconduct allegations against Luis Jaime Castillo Butters.

The Facebook group Se acabó el silencio - Derecho PUCP has posted a statement about the charges against Castillo, which is garnering many signatures among PUCP faculty. Here is the original text in Spanish, followed by an English translation. This case is creating a major stir in Peru, as academics and students alike see an opening in the crack of toxic patriarchy that has ruled academia in that country for so long. (With thanks to the translators/activists who participated in making this available.)


Las y los docentes abajo firmantes expresamos nuestra profunda preocupación frente a las graves denuncias de hostigamiento sexual y otros actos de abuso de poder atribuidos al doctor Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, Profesor Principal del Departamento de Humanidades (sección de Arqueología), contenidas en un artículo del periodista estadounidense Michael Balter publicado el 29 de junio del presente año en su blog, dedicado al tema de los abusos de renombrados profesores en el ámbito de la arqueología andina. Al respecto:

1.     Recordamos que la violencia de género se da en el marco de relaciones desiguales de poder que explican el justificado miedo que sienten muchas de las víctimas a revelar su identidad y denunciar.
2.     Solicitamos a las autoridades de la Universidad su apoyo pleno, firme y claro para la investigación de oficio abierta por la Comisión Especial para la Intervención Frente al Hostigamiento Sexual cumpla con su finalidad.
3.     Pedimos que se garanticen las condiciones necesarias para que las estudiantes que hayan sido víctimas de hostigamiento sexual puedan formalizar sus denuncias sin temor a represalias que pudieran afectar sus estudios o su futuro profesional.

Lima, 2 de julio de 2020

Walter Albán
Elena Alvites
Armando Alzamora
Luis Andrade
Mónica Arakaki
María Elena Arce
Maribel Arrelucea
Alejandra Ballón
Roxana Barrantes
Violeta Barrientos
Marissa Béjar
Martha Bell
Violeta Bermúdez
Aurea Julia Bolaños
Mónica Bonifaz
Renata Bregaglio
Enrique Bruce
José Burneo
Juan Carlos Callirgos
Themis Castellanos
Mario Cepeda
Miguel Costa
Luis Fernando Chueca
Marcela Chueca
Norma Correa
Augusto del Valle
José Antonio de la Riva Fort
Francesca Denegri
Rossana Díaz
Fabián Drenkhan
Álvaro Ezcurra
Adriana Fernández
Lucía Fernández
Marisol Fernández
Mari Fernández Flecha
Patricia Fernández
Jacqueline Fowks
Ramón Gabriel
Nadia Gamboa
Carolina Garcés
Erika García
Camila Gianela
Fernando González Hunt
Agustín Grández
Victoria Guerrero
Alexandra Hibbett
Marcela Huaita
Luis Fernando Jara
Iris Jave
David Lovatón
Sofía Macher
Betzabé Marciani
Carlos Mejía
Rubén Merino
Flor Mallqui
Yván Montoya
Félix Morales
Angélica Motta
Fanni Muñoz
Andrés Napurí
Cirle Neira
Arón Núnez-Curto
María Eugenia Ulfe
Iván Ormachea
Franco Osorio
Myriam Pajuelo
Giannina Paredes
Nani Pease
Omar Pereyra
Patrizia Pereyra
Giovanna Pollarolo
Florencia Portocarrero
José Rau
Sara Rondienel
Susana Reisz
Ana Teresa Revilla
María Gracia Ríos
Domingo Rivarola
Carmen Robles
Julio Rodríguez
Carla Sagástegui
Miriam Salas
Elizabeth Salcedo
Carlos Daniel Salinas
Cynthia Silva
Rocío Silva Santisteban
Evelyn Sotomayor
Ana María Talavera
Griselda Tello
María Eugenia Ulfe
Arelí Valencia
Rocío Villanueva
Lucía Watson
Carmen Yon


We, the undersigned professors, express our deep concern at the serious allegations of sexual harassment and other acts of abuse of power attributed to Dr. Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, Principal Professor of the Department of Humanities (Archaeology section), in an article by U.S. journalist Michael Balter published on his blog on June 29, 2020. In this article, he discusses the abuses of renowned professors in Andean archaeology. Concerning this matter:

1.     We recall that gender violence happens within the framework of unequal power relations, which explains the justifiable fear that many of the victims feel about revealing their identity and filing complaints. 
2.     We request from the University authorities their full, firm, and clear support so that the investigation being done at the initiative of the Special Commission for Intervention Against Sexual Harassment can fulfill its purpose.
3.     We ask that the necessary conditions be guaranteed so that students who have been victims of sexual harassment can file their complaints without fear of reprisals that could affect their studies or their professional future.

Lima, July 2nd, 2020

Post a Comment


Anonymous said…
I've been hearing about Castillo for years and that photo sends a shiver down my spine. Yeah Gary and Jaime, how about we meet at a hotel room… I’ll bring a bottle of wine and we can talk about your careers. Andeanists are tighter than tree bark and have engineered the promotion of their area of study to the level of a premier field in archaeology. This concise summary is pointing to some long term systemic abuse that involves the ranking investigators either directly or indirectly though their complicit silence when their students have reported on what they have confronted on Peruvian archaeological projects. For example the advice they frequently receive is that maybe they should work in Mexico instead. Detecting some cultural prejudice here dear readers? Despite the fact that over 80% of the Latin American population of the United States are of Mexican descent and therefore the direct inheritors of the civilizational heritage of North America where we live, the curriculum in the study of ancient Mesoamerica is being systematically reduced or removed from departments across the country or transferred to ethnic studies as Andean faculty hires take precedence.

Anonymous said…
You need to speak with Castillo's first wife. She surely can say a lot of things about this matter.
Anonymous said…
I'm not familiar with Peruvian archaeology so I'm hoping someone can explain some incongruities i've noticed.

Castillo Butters did not receive a PhD until 2012. Prior to that, he only had a Bachelors in Archaeology from Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in 1993 (not exactly sure of the year since it doesn't seem to be listed on any of his professional or academic sites). Yet somehow he has the following things listed in his academic/professional history:

From 1991 to 1994 he was an associate researcher at the Fowler Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles
From 1994 to 2004 he was a member of the National Commission of Archeology of the National Institute of Culture of Peru .
In 1993 he was a professor in the extension program at the University of California, Los Angeles
In the academic year 2011/2012 he was a fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies at Harvard University .
He is also listed as a "visiting professor" at the following universities
Lund University , Lund (2011)
School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences , Paris (2010)
University of Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle , Paris (2010)
National Autonomous University of Mexico (2007)
Michel-de-Montaigne University - Bordeaux III (2007 - 2008)
Autonomous University of Barcelona (2004)
Pablo de Olavide University , Seville (2000 - 2010)

I know that the requirements for teaching can vary vastly based on country and insititution but I'm curious if all of these affiliations are correct. It would mean that despite academia being so competetive and he was able to achive quite a lot with just a bachelors.

It's also amazing how he was able to receive a PhD from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA even though, according to the wayback machine, he is not listed as a graduate student for the years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

A truly remarkable feat in my humble opinion.
Anonymous said…
Michael – this is an excellent report. What I find most terrifying here is that you expose not so much the “lone harassers” that most of us occasionally hear about, but rather the very palpable existence of enablers-abusers’ networks, which stresses even further the point of an inherent problem in Andean archaeology.
Luis Jaime Castillo wrote his dissertation on San Jose de Moro at UCLA under the tutelage of Charles Stanish. A contemporary of Castillo and yet another of Stanish’s UCLA graduate students was Ran Boytner, IFR ex-director, of which you also exposed his harassment of a female student in his respective field school in Peru in 2009. During those years and after, Stanish was known in the ‘community’ to have dated several of his former female students, which was still legal but was frowned upon by many and set a bad example.
One could perhaps dismiss this as a coincidence, except for the fact that Stanish had a big hand in burying Boytner’s harassment case by allowing him to keep his job at UCLA for over a year after the events - even while prohibiting him from interacting with students unsupervised - and later on in the ensuing civil court case where he testified on behalf of Boytner (though Boytner and UCLA did eventually pay the student up.)
So even fully knowing of Boytner’s history of harassment in the field did not stop Stanish from aiding him in launching the IFR (at the very same month they testified in court against the harassed student!), running his Peru field school through the IFR for several years, and even joining the IFR board. And while Stanish was sitting on the board, Boytner was once again accused of bullying and sexually harassing a female employee. Although most people would clearly see the pattern here, Boytner amazingly got to keep his job and the employee was promptly fired. Then, Boytner and Stanish moved on to support Kurin’s appointment to the IFR board. And it was Boytner, probably emboldened by the fact that he managed to get away with it time after time, who buried the truth about Kurin’s Title IX case at UCSB and let her run several field schools through the IFR when nobody else would touch her. As you documented, Michael, this unfortunately led to another vicious cycle of sexual harassment and assault by her husband, Gomez Choque, on unsuspecting students.
So what you really have here is a genealogy of, yet another, powerful but dodgy Andeanist (Stanish), who enables and covers for an abuser (Boytner), which in turn rises to a position of power that allows him to enable another abuser (Kurin), which in turn gives her the platform to enable another abuser (Gomez.) Crazy enough to sound like the plot of one of those South American soap operas, except that this one is sadly very much true and is well supported by real testimonies and official documents.
Thanks again, Michael and the brave survivors and witnesses, for helping stop these vicious cycles once and for all.
Anonymous said…
To the commenter above re: his recent PhD and how he got all those professorships. He was a graduate student at UCLA under Chris Donnan in the 1990s. For some reason Donnan did not want to continue being his advisor; rumors swirl about the reason why. In Peru and elsewhere, he used the title Ph.D.C., or Ph.D. Candidate. Most people in in Peru thought he already had a PhD. It wasn’t until much later that a good professor friend of his at UCLA let him graduate with a thesis written in Spanish, which is highly unusual for Latin Americans doing Anthropology PhDs in the US. They almost always have to write in English.

As for his numerous visiting professorships, it’s the result of years of building his reputation and patronage network. With ever more foreign honors, he became bolder in his behavior.
Anonymous said…
For some time, it was not unusual for peruvians pursuing PhD studies in Anthropology in the US to go for many years between finishing their studies and graduating. This was usually because they would return to Peru, get jobs and thus delay writing and finishing their thesis, which was especially the case for people with no funding and who needed to work. What is highly unusual is to have someone who has not formally acquired a Phd obtaining posts that require a completed PhD, such as the highly prestigious Dumbarton Oaks Fellowship. I also find it unusual to read that "most people in in Peru thought he already had a PhD", since the alternative "whisper network" made it very clear that it took him a long time to obtain his PhD, and that the reason why it was written in Spanish was because he completed it as part of his collaboration with Pablo de Olavide university.
Anonymous said…
Castillo Butters' dissertation, which was written in Spanish, is available on ProQuest (document ID 1112075366). It is common knowledge that two of the signing committee members are not fluent in Spanish.

(That said, it's not terribly uncommon in academia for a committee chair with leverage to ask junior faculty to certify a dissertation post haste, even if the faculty lack the background knowledge to fully assess its merits, and especially when the PhD candidate is returning after extensive, relevant professional experience. It's not celebrated, but it's not unheard of.)

To address earlier commenters' confusion about the timing of his degrees earned, the CV portion of Castillo Butters' 2012 dissertation states:

University of California, Los Ángeles
- Candidatura al doctorado (C. Phil.). Anthopology, 1993.
- Magister (M.A.). Archaeology, 1991. Tesis de maestría: “Narrations in Moche Art.”

(This thesis is likely not available online. The Cotsen Ph.D. program does not file Master's theses with the UCLA library; an internally archived capstone paper is the writing project that partially fulfills the M.A. requirements.)

People familiar with the Cotsen during the 2000s and 2010s know that Chip Stanish and Chris Donnan did not get along particularly well. There was at least one other UCLA graduate student in Andean studies whose dissertation committee Donnan refused to join, despite ancient Peru being his area of expertise.
Anonymous said…
Instudied and work at PUCP for many years and still have many friends and acquaintances there. The rumors about this guy were loud and went in the direction of your posts. His wife—wonderful academic, generous and supportive of students, and systematically mistreated because she was a woman in what used to be an extremely sexist work environment—went through a lot because of LJC’s well know infidelities. That’s why, if I were able to overlook how disrespectful it is, I would find the letter you received hilarious. The grandstanding is really disgusting, and talking about “imperialism” is misguided and demagogic.
Anonymous said…
On the website SUNEDU Superintendencia Nacional de Educación Superior Universitaria, government organization who supervise university education records in Peru, you can find the titles registered for Castillo in the country.


DNI 07194720
Fecha de diploma: 21/10/1987

DNI 07194720
Fecha de diploma: 21/10/1987

DNI 07194720
Fecha de diploma: 28/06/1989

DNI 07194720
Fecha de Resolución de Revalida: 14/05/97
Fecha de Expedición del Diploma: 14/05/97

DNI 07194720
Fecha Diploma: 14/12/2012
Fecha de Resolución de Reconocimiento: 13/06/2017

Anonymous said…
There are several names that are well known in the domestic Peruvian archaeology that are close to Castillo. I think is important to remember that they all worked with him and likely get their current positions because of his influence. This people will inmmediately jump and defend Castillo, and they were basically enablers of the systematic behavior that you just exposed.
Aldo Watanave (who changed his nickname in Twitter to "Student Z", clearly making fun (?) of this report), Elsa Tomasto, Ana Cecilia Mauricio, Luis Muro, Miguel Aguilar, Henry Tantaleán, Carlos Wester, Gabriel Prieto...many of them got their PhD's in a surprisingly short time, and in well-known institutions such as UCLA or Stanford. In the following days we'll see this names defending Castillo, talking about "defamation" and dismissing the accusations. Remember their names...
Anonymous said…
Do not forget the money, there are a lot of it that went through San Jose de Moro field schools has Harvard students and others had to pay for their field trip. It would be interesting to do the math, calculate what it costes the project and how much was left in the kittie... Perhaps a Harvard student who knows about it could provide these numbers..
Anonymous said…
Maybe is all related to a certain way of behaving. While Luis Jaime Castillo was working for the Ministry of Culture: a tremendous boost of drone use in cultural institutions (he is related to drone business) and the highly controversial MUNA museum project....
Anonymous said…
Much of what is coming out here is ultimately all about the money. Andean is big business for those archaeologists and their investments especially considering the connection this enabling network has to the major granting agencies, the awards given to each other and the promotions in rank and salary for those awards given by university administrators back at their home institutions. This group suppresses equally valuable research in other areas of the Americas to protect their investment in this network as a feedback system of enrichment. So far the response from Harvard is symbolic. Urton is home writing another book. I hope the PUCP can do something. We have yet to hear any comparable announcement of what is going on from the IFR or UCLA. The money... shame on you.
Anonymous said…
I am a Peruvian anthropologist who met LJC a very-very long time ago. I have no reason to put in question any of these testimonies, quite the contrary, they make sense to me. My comment is about what commenter 1 states:"provinciales,' a hugely violent and derogatory word in Peru to racially refer to Indigenous, non-white populations. " Sorry but that is not accurate. "Provincial" is never used it that way, it doesn't even makes sense. I guess the word Commenter 1 meant to use is "provinciano", which is an adjective that means you come from the interior. It is neither violent nor derogatory. It's just descriptive. People will say with no shame "soy provinciano" or "mi familia es provinciana".
Anonymous said…
Projection over-ruled. Its about networks not about men. Its the network that is identified here that is appalling.
Anonymous said…
Notice how the sexual aggresions reported are tightly close to the abuse of power ones. Maybe is too obvious to say, but the structure of privilege that Castillo Butters not only built by himself but probably inherited (as a white-man from an upper class family, which is basically a license for everything in Peru) is the one and only reason why he was able to get away with it for many years. The brave women that just raised their voice, and the fine work of Mr. Balter himself, just cracked this apparently solid tower of impunity. Not to blame any individual but is such a shame that several generations of peruvian archaeologists either took advantage of the network that he created or remained silent. Many others just couldn't stand it and they basically preferred to keep their dignity intact and dropped their careers. Castillo eventually reached the highest position in the Ministry of Culture in Peru, and made possible the highly criticized Natiional Museum of Archaeology (MUNA for the spanish initials, reference Is just incredible that some people believe in his innocence. Unbelievable...
Anonymous said…
Si bien el término provinciano no constituye en sí mismo un insulto, no debería tener ningún aspecto negativo en su enunciación como bien lo indica la persona del comentario, y es una expresión que debería llenar de orgullo a los habitantes de un país tan complejo y diverso como el Perú; históricamente es un término racializado, elegido y utilizado por las élites (en su mayoría de veces de la capital) para legitimar posicionamientos de poder y acumulación de riqueza. De esta manera, enunciado desde un cuerpo blanco, masculino y limeño (y simbólicamente global, ya que fue expresado en un contexto donde habían personas foráneas), claramente posicionado en una dinámica de poder y de extractivismo cultural (excavaciones arqueológicas) en la ciudad de San José de Moro en la provincia de Chepén, La Libertad; empleado para caracterizar a personas de provincias o de “fuera de la ciudad de Lima” con características negativas como: del “interior” (no del exterior), atraso, ingenuidad, racialización, irracionalidad, y poco entendidas en los aspectos políticos del estado y la cultura. Muchas de las discusiones que abordan el análisis del término provinciano y también, por ejemplo, del término “cholo”, es que si bien en nuestro contexto estos términos pueden ser utilizados como expresiones de cariño y afecto, también son utilizados para el insulto sutil y denigración; por ello lo que se enfatiza es identificar el posicionamiento de lugar de enunciación: ¿quién lo dice? ¿a quién se lo dice? ¿en qué contexto lo dice? Es sobre ese posicionamiento de enunciación simbólico a la que refiere este testimonio. Enunciado por un hombre blanco limeño, para referirse a dinámicas propias del pueblo y de los provincianos de San José de Moro, en un contexto donde ocurrían varios tipos de abusos de poder. Este posicionamiento simbólico, sí es violento y es además, el que ha permitido varias catástrofes sociales del Perú.
Anonymous said…
It seems as if we are getting input here from persons who have not followed the blog until now. No one is questioning credentials here. Credentials have nothing to do with participation in what amounts to an enabling network which has been clearly exposed by Michael's blog through the IFR, UCLA, Harvard, and the the PUCP. Silence among all these Andeanists at this academic level, who have this many connections with each other, for this long a time, through these prestigious organizations from which they have received all these positions and awards, as well as sitting together as committee members with all these same organizations IS ENABLING. Read the blogs! These people have been aware of this shameful behavior in their midst for years and have done nothing about it and now people are coming forth complaining because these colleagues have prestigious jobs and major awards and that should somehow excuse them!!!? WOW!
Anonymous said…
No one said we should excuse their reprehensible behavior. What I pushed back against was the idea that several people named in comments apparently only got their jobs because of their connections, which is a particularly insidious accusation when levied against a woman and a Latinx man. Yes, all these people knew each other and were closely connected. That’s true of most regional archaeology fields. It’s always the same people. These networks are absolutely a huge problem BUT what I’m seeing some commenters do is assume everyone connected to these abusers is in their job because they enabled them. That’s a massive and dangerous leap.
Anonymous said…
Given the sheer number of young women we have been hearing from who have voiced complaints about their treatment or the treatment of others to reach virtually every member of this Andeanist network, a path forward here would be to propose a forum on the issues addressed on Michael Balter’s blog at the Society for American Archaeology and the College Art Association meetings. What do we do when we are invested in a field and work so hard over decades to develop our academic network with colleagues to promote ourselves only to find out that we belong to a sexual harassment enabling network? Why are we silent? What will happen if we speak out? Are we trapped? Concerns over retribution are a real issue here as this blog has proven! How can the Andean field create EFFECTIVE institutional solutions to these problems. Having served on Castillo’s committee and then co-founded the interdisciplinary Andean Working Group together with Charles Stanish at UCLA, it sounds like Professor Nair would be the perfect person to organize and chair this.

Anonymous said…
An important element that Randi Stevens highlighted in her original Facebook post is the role of alcohol, especially in the field. Field parties and celebrations involving alcohol are opportunities for relaxing, for fun, for team members to bond - until they are not. I have seen how many people are prone to excessive drinking, borderline alcoholism, and that can lead to, at best, ridiculous behavior, and at worst to fights, violence, unwanted groping, harrassment and even to sexual encounters where consent was not freely given, if at all. Unfortunately, Peru is still a very sexist country where LGTB people are mocked, and grown men often still consider that sleeping with someone who is drunk is not really rape or assault. What I find very ironic is that you see that the same men who give lectures on complex societies, inequality, power relationships and how it manifests in archaeology then seem to have no problem with hitting on students and junior colleagues who look up to them for mentorship and guidance in their careers.
Anonymous said…
Someone else to approach about organizing who has done much to promote and defend women in the field of Pre-Columbian and Colonial Art and Archaeology is Elizabeth Boone at Tulane University. Formerly director of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, she knows this network as well as anybody. She is married to John Verano, a UCLA graduate and the ranking physical anthropologist in Andean Studies. She co-edited one of her most recent books with Gary Urton.

Anonymous said…
Hi Balter- I noticed that the previous comments on Jason De Leon were deleted. Not sure why, but feel free to ignore this one as well if you think it’s not relevant to this particular discussion.

I’ve been following this discussion on tight-knit and self-serving, enabling, networks from the side-lines, but now feel the need to jump in in regards to the above (now deleted) comments on Jason De Leon. De Leon is indeed an award-winning Latino scholar, whose research is innovative and topical. The comment that he’s the search committees’ dream candidate is spot on, and Michigan are still kicking themselves for losing him to UCLA.
But one also needs to understand a bit of institutional prehistory in order to contextualise where this success story is coming from, all of which can be reconstructed by anyone with a bit of online research. This will hopefully also help those who attended the disgraceful Cotsen/IFR/UCLA June 11 Town Hall meeting (that Balter previously covered), and are still confused about De Leon’s staunch defence of the IFR despite the serious allegation that organization is currently facing.
De Leon got his B.A. at UCLA in 2001, where he met many of the colleagues who would later become his fellow board members at the IFR. While pursuing his graduate degree at Penn State, he continued working with Cotsen-related projects and faculty, although at this point he’s still your run-of-the-mill Mesoamerican archaeologist. His big break comes a year after graduating, when he embarks on the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP) in 2009. The first field school is offered in 2010 through the UCLA Archaeology Field Program that Ran Boytner and Charles Stanish concocted at the Cotsen Institute, and which provided De Leon with a major funding source, public exposure and students. There he also meets other field school directors who would later join the IFR as board members. When Boytner and his program are kicked out of UCLA in late 2010 (possibly for sexual harassment, see Balter’s blog on this topic) and the IFR is created from the ashes in 2011, De Leon is appointed as a founding board member along with his UCLA buddies and fellow field school directors. As a recently appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, this is De Leon’s first seat at the ‘adults table’ and provides him with much needed networking leverage and professional service. He then continues to run his UMP field school through the IFR in 2012 and 2013, and more recently in 2020 (cancelled due to the pandemic). In 2019 he leaves Michigan back to UCLA, his alma mater.
Seen as such, there is nothing here that any other ambitious academic wouldn’t do: work hard, network and climb through the ranks. In recent years De Leon became known and respected in the community for being vocal on correcting social injustices and a champion of the #MeToo movement. He even publicly quit the SAA after the Yesner blunder, which Balter helped to expose. The twist came when whisper networks and student testimonies started to expose the dark truths about harassments, assaults and bullying cases at the IFR— the organization and people that made De Leon who he is today— that he suddenly fell all silent. He only broke his silence at the June 11 Town Hall meeting, where he shamefully deflected the blame onto Balter, thus muzzling all those victims who shared their stories in the first place. In order to save the organization, he followed the party line and recast this grave institutional negligence on specific individuals, namely Danielle Kurin. At the expense of those who now demand justice, this helped him justify to himself and others why, 20 years after, he is still willing to work and cover up for the same group of people.
And this is exactly why tight-knit and self-serving, enabling, networks are so very much real, and are so very dangerous.
Anonymous said…
Re: De Leon. Everyone looking at his CV and his writing knows that he is a top-notch scholar doing innovative and socially significant work. But that does not make even unintentionally being part of an enabling network ethically tenable if you continue to defend it and be silent about the abuses after you've found out. What's disappointing in De Leon's case is a lack of consistency. He rightly criticized the SAA for how they handled a Metoo debacle and praised this journalist. But when Balter started talking about IFR and UCLA, he clammed up publicly and even made elitist disparaging comments about this journalist ("little rinky-dinky website") as well as casting doubts on Balter's honesty in a private zoom conference, which can severely undermine the voices of those who have come to Balter. Ethics is all about consistency. It's easy to criticize people who are not your friends, mentors, and supporters. It's much more difficult, therefore ethical, to call out bad behavior no matter from whom it comes. In the same vein, consistency is to believe and support people when they say they've been mistreated, no matter who that person is, and not because they could benefit you in the future. There's a line in Siddhartha by Hesse about choosing the harder path. We would all do well to choose the harder path now so the path may be easier for those traditionally marginalized coming through the field behind us.
Michael Balter said…
Just a note from me: I did delete 2-3 comments that I had originally approved, but not because of what they said about Jason de Leon. I felt that another scholar had been unnecessarily and unfairly disparaged, including their academic integrity, and so I decided after the fact to delete those posts.
Anonymous said…
Note for those who wish to contribute with specific IFR-related comments, this discussion is now back to the UCLA/IFR town-hall meeting thread at
Anonymous said…
In response to "June 30, 2020 at 5:32 AM Anonymous said..." Donnan stopped working with Castillo after they co-directed two field seasons at San Jose de Moro. Those were the field seasons that the two princess burials were found. Though Castillo takes credit for the discoveries quite often, it was Donnan who had the intuition to pay a local resident move his corral so they could excavate underneath it. That is where the first of the princess burials was found. After those two field seasons Donnan said he would rather stop doing archeology than work with LJ again.

LJ often advertised himself as Dr. Castillo prior to receiving his PhD. Harvard offered a class in Peru that he was jointly teaching with Jeffery Quilter. He was listed on the literature as Dr. Castillo. When it was pointed out to Harvard that LJ didn't have a PhD, the language was changed.
Lee Rudolph said…
From last Tuesday's Harvard Crimson:
"Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay placed Anthropology and African and African-American Studies professor John L. Comaroff on paid administrative leave Monday afternoon following allegations that he sexually harassed students and retaliated against those who spoke out against him.following allegations that he sexually harassed students and retaliated against those who spoke out against him."
Anonymous said…
Now that he has been kicked out of the NAS… Chip Stanish was the one who nominated Castillo to the NAS in the first place. I find that highly irregular, an advisor nominating his former PhD student. Chip Stanish also promoted and enabled other harassers like Ran Boytner, even testifying as a character witness for him in Boytner’s harassed student in court! This is how the architecture of impunity works; promote those who are as unethical as you because you know they will have your back when you need backup if you get in trouble.
Anonymous said…

“I am happy to be out” of NAS, [Castillo Butters] added. “I am happy to not be a member of a consortium that takes this type of insult lightly.”

Which is basically the academic equivalent of:
“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” (Groucho Marx)

Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Mr Balter: What can you tell us about the NAS process for rescinding membership? Do they conduct hearings? Talk to witnesses? Do they issue findings? Do we know what they found Castillo did? Where I work specific processes and findings are required to take any action. Thank you
Anonymous said…
I posted a response to the above Castillo sycophant in another thread, but because s/he posted basically the same nonsense here: “ To Anonymous October 19, 2021 at 1:13 PM . NAS describes their process; all you have to do is search for it. Your questions are pretty disingenuous. The commission also clearly stated they found evidence of sexual harassment and that Castillo lied to them on two occasions and was interfering w due process by defending himself in class and describing what he will do to the complainants, ensuring that no student dared to submit their own complaint. You are either Castillo or one of his sycophants. I know that he also violated the due process of the NAS investigation and broke their bylaws by sending a notarized threat letter to one of the complainants that was full of verifiable defamation, demanding that she retract the complaint or else. How’s that?”

Castillo sycophants do not actually care about due process, which Castillo violated on multiple occasions with both PUCP and with NAS. NAS differed by actually taking disciplinary action.
Anonymous said…
This poster at the Institute of Andean Studies 62nd annual meeting should be of interest to all those who work in the region and care about #MeToo issues:

Dana Bardolph, Northern Illinois University; Sofia Chacaltana Cortez, Jesuit University Antonio Ruiz de Montoya; Violeta Killian Galvan, Universidad de Buenos Aires; Andrew Hamilton, Art Institute of Chicago; Melissa Murphy, University of Wyoming; Laura Pey, Universidad de Buenos Aires; Bill Sapp, US Forest Service; Beth K Scaffidi, University of California, Merced

From the website:
This year's IAS Annual Meeting will be entirely online, similar to last year's. The Presentations and Posters list and Schedule will be open to all visitors. To actually view and discuss the presentations, posters, and live events in a relatively secure environment, all participants must register in advance by December 15 using the Meeting Registration Form and log in to the meeting from January 3 through February 12. Live, interactive events via Zoom are scheduled from Thursday, January 13 through Sunday, January 16. There is no fee. A list of registrants' names will be posted shortly after December 15*. For security reasons, no registration is allowed after December 15.
Anonymous said…
In case anyone still wonders why we won’t see some of the individuals discussed in Balter’s Blog at the 62 IAS conference, it is because of these two tick boxes at the registration process:

__ I have never been the subject of adverse findings from a discrimination or harassment proceeding, lawsuit, administrative complaint, or disciplinary action; and *
__ I am not currently the subject of a open investigation or proceeding related to professional misconduct, such as a discrimination or harassment lawsuit or administrative complaint. *
Anonymous said…

For the same reason, you will not see ANY of these people (and many of their enablers) present this year at the Chicago SAAs. Ousted, discredited, and a positive sign that our professional organizations finally start to crack down on scumbags.