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Global Circulations of Architectural Knowledge

Attributed to Fray Juan Bautista Egidiano (architect) and Inca sculptors, façade, Compañía de Jesús, 1651-1668, Cusco. Photo © Elizabeth J. Petcu

Research Theme

I investigate the transfer and transformation of architectural knowledge between continents during colonial early modernity, with an emphasis on exchanges between the Holy Roman Empire and the Viceroyalty of Peru. One area of focus is the movement of ideas concerning architectural design, such as the creative reception and subversion of northern European ornament prints by seventeenth-century Andean architectural sculptors. I additionally research transcontinental dialogues concerning the architectural technologies of natural resource extraction, such as the bidirectional exchanges between the mining cultures of viceregal Peru and early modern Central Europe. Cutting across both lines of inquiry is an interest in architectural knowledge as an agent of European coloniality and a tool of Indigenous resistance to European colonization.


My forthcoming book, The Architectural Image and Early Modern Science: Wendel Dietterlin and the Rise of Empirical Investigation, concludes with a chapter on the astonishing afterlife of Dietterlin’s Architectura treatise in viceregal Peru. It examines how architectural sculptors in Cusco and Lima emulated Dietterlin’s Architectura etchings while also reconfiguring the prints’ ideas about architectural form and matter to support Inca and Yschma architectural ontologies.


In addition, I am currently examining the exchange of images of architectural systems between sixteenth-century Potosí and the Erzgebirge of Habsburg Central Europe. I argue that this pictorial dialogue aggravated the European exploitation of silver mines in colonial Peru, but also inspired one Inca nobleman, Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala, to visualize an alternative, Andean-controlled mining system at Potosí.

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