Associate Professor of Anthropology


Parker VanValkenburgh's research and publications employ archaeological methods to address anthropological research questions, with a particular focus on the long-term impacts of colonialism and imperialism on Indigenous people and environments in Andean Peru. Through the study of diverse materials and media––including architecture, ceramics, environmental datasets, and archival documents––he seeks to understand how relationships between people, institutions, and environments are transformed in the course of imperial histories, as well as how the strategies of survival and resilience that communities develop to deal with empires are passed down and reworked across generations. In the course of doing so, he strives to generate approaches that are widely applicable to the study of empire(s) beyond the Andean region and which contribute to interdisciplinary understanding of imperial legacies in the modern world. In this work, he draws amply on digital methodologies, including the tools of geographic information systems (GIS), to map and analyze social, political, and environmental change in space and time. He also applies a critical lens to the study of digital media and methodologies, asking not just how these techniques facilitate archaeological scholarship, but how digital mediation transforms the ways we work with collaborators, research subjects, students, and public audiences.

VanValkenburgh received his Ph.D. in 2012 from Harvard University and previously held positions at the University of Vermont (Assistant Prof. of Anthropology, 2013-15) and Washington University in St. Louis (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry, 2012-13). Among other projects, he is currently co-director (with Carol Rojas Vega) of the Paisajes Arqueológicos de Chachapoyas (PACha) project, an investigation of long-term human-environment interaction in Peru's Chachapoyas region, grounded in the analysis of archaeological survey, archival research, remotely sensed datasets, and work with contemporary communities in the provinces of Luya, Chachapoyas, and Bongará, Amazonas (Peru). He is also a co-director, with Steven Wernke (Vanderbilt University), of GeoPACHA(Geospatial Platform for Andean Culture, HIstory and Archaeology); and, with Alicia Odewale (University of Tulsa) Mapping HIstorical Trauma in Tulsa, 1921-2021. From 2008 to 2016, he directed the Proyecto Arqueológico Zaña Colonial, a project focusing on the impacts of Spanish colonial forced resettlement (reducción) on landscapes and political subjectivities in Peru’s North Coast region.

At Brown, VanValkenburgh directs the Brown Digital Archaeology Laboratory ( and teaches courses on Geographic Information Systems, cartography, critical digital archaeology, the politics of space and landscape, historical anthropology, and the archaeology and anthropology of the Andean region. He frequently collaborates Brown University undergraduate and graduate students. Research collaborations with Brown University undergraduate students have resulted in papers and products including "Building a Tablet-Based Recording System for Archaeological Ceramic Classification" (2016), the website Socios en Patrimonio (2018) and "Linking Past and Present Land-Use Histories in Southern Amazonas, Peru" (2021) -

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas