Doctoral candidate Kristi Peterson received two departmental travel grants in 2015 which allowed her to conduct international research into her dissertation topic. The Penelope Mason Travel Grant ad the Friends of Art History Dissertation Research Award provided Peterson with the funding to travel to archives, museums, and sacred sites of Mexico in her ongoing exploration of Aztec sacred images. The grants also allowed Peterson to pursue in-depth research at the archives, libraries, and collections in New York and Washington, D. C., including extended research at the Library of Congress.
Peterson presented her research in April at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, where she also chaired the session in which she took part. Peterson investigates the sculpture and manuscripts of the Aztec Empire pre-Spanish contact, and discusses their cultural agency in her papers and dissertation. That is, she argues that these objects were not only the documentation of Pre-Columbian Aztec cultural identity, but also the agents of that identity, helping to shape the narrative of which they were a part. Peterson further investigates how the Aztec Empire collected the sacred images of the cities they conquered as well as how they used these objects in the space of their own city. Peterson’s dissertation, “Consumption and Construction: Devotional Images and the Place of Empire in Postclassic Mexico, 1325-1521,” is currently in progress under the direction of Prof. Michael Carrasco.