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About Olga González-Castenada

For her Masters thesis González-Castenada conducted field research in a southern coastal area of Peru with people displaced by political violence. She examined the challenging social and cultural dynamics facing Perus war refugees as they constructed new communities and negotiated new identities. Subsequently she did extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the Quechua-speaking highland community of Sarhua (Ayacucho, Peru). From that research she wrote her doctoral dissertation which examined the relationship between memory and secrecy through an analysis of oral histories and indigenous paintings depicting the events of political violence during the armed conflict between the Shining Path and the Peruvian government.
That dissertation is the basis of a book manuscript titled Unveiling Secrets of War in the Peruvian Highlands which is currently under review.
Her interest in the cultural politics surrounding indigenous and vernacular art and the positioning of these forms of art in the wider, national and transnational arenas, led her to become the adviser and collaborator for two traveling art exhibits in the United States: Weaving of War and Tradition and Crisis in Peruvian Popular Arts. She has published two articles on a Peruvian artist, whose work appeared in the Weavings of War exhibit, titled Experience of a Peruvian Arpillera Artist in New York City: Weaving and Unraveling War Memories and Juana Huaytalla-Méndez: Peruvian Arpillerista.
Prior to becoming an anthropologist, González completed her B.A. in psychology and Licenciatura in clinical psychology. She taught at the Pontificia Universidad Católica in the Department of Psychology and served as the executive director of the non-governmental organization CEDAPP (Center for Psychosocial Development and Assessment). At CEDAPP she worked with grass-root communities of Andean origin and children from economically poor inner city neighborhoods, conducting seminars and supervising psychology students completing their internships.

EDUCATION: B.A., Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú; M.A., M.Phil, Ph.D., Columbia University


Present Associate Professor and Chair, Anthropology, Macalester College


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Honors and Awards

  • Honorable Mention The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty, 2010
  • Visiting Fellowship, Second Annual Symposium for Emerging Scholars, The Center for Liberal Arts and Society (CLAS) at Franklin & Marshall College, 2010


  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • Psychological Anthropology
  • Power, Violence and Resistance in Latin America
  • Politics of Memory in Latin America

Contact Information

Macalester College
Carnegie 04C
1600 Grand Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105
(651) 696-6589


Articles (6)

Book Reviews (2)

Books (1)

Contributions to Books (2)

Presentations (8)

Other (1)