Verónica Cereceda Bianchi
Fellow: Awarded 2009
Field of Study: Anthropology
Competition: Latin America & Caribbean
Verónica Cereceda Bianchi is the General Director of the Foundation for Anthropological Investigation and Ethno-development (ASUR), which she founded with her late husband, Gabriel Martinez, in the 1980s. Centered in the Bolivian city of Sucre, the Foundation offers native weavers not only a market outlet for their beautiful textiles, but a museum to showcase them. This has been an important benefit to native Quechua and Aymara weavers, and has served as a model for other ethnodevelopment projects. She has curated many international exhibitions of their work, in Paris, France; La Paz, Bolivia; Geneva, Switzerland; Santiago, Chile; and of course at ASUR.
ASUR grew out of decades of her ethnographic field work, studying the aesthetics and mechanics of weaving and the insight the native-made textiles of Bolivia, Peru, and her homeland of Chile offer into the politics, religion, history—the shared culture—of the artisans and their communities. Her studies of the varying emphases on the traditional three themes of the heavens, earth, and underworld in the textiles have resulted in numerous significant publications, including Mundo Quechua (La Paz: Ayni Ruway, 1980); “The semiology of Andean Textiles: the talegas of Isluga,” in Anthropological History of Andean Polities, ed. John Mura, Nathan Wachtel, and Jacques Revel (Cambridge UP, 1986); “A partir de los colores de un párajaro . . . ,” Boletín del Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, No. 4 (1990); “¿Infiernos Cristianos, Infiernos Andinos? Mundos demoníacos en la imaginería actual de Los Andes,” in Enciclopedia Iberoamericana de Religiones. Tomo: Mitologías (Madrid: Ed. Trotta, 2006); among many others. During her Guggenheim term, Ms. Cereceda Bianchi intends to the textile designs of indigenous peoples in Bolivia as expressions of identity.
Ms. Cereceda Bianchi received her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in anthropology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and her Ph.D. in the same field from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. In 2003, she received the Adela Zamudio medal from the Municipal Government of Sucre and the Duo Taino commemorative plaque from the Director General of UNESCO; other honors include the Gunnar Mendoza National Award for the Promotion of Culture from the Bolivian Ministry of Culture (2004), the Gabriela Mistral medal, in the Order of the Commander, from the Governor of Chile’s Ministry of Education (2005), and the National Award for Social Sciences in Bolivia from the Fundación PIEB and the Academy of Sciences in La Paz (2008).