• Pilar Rau
  • Pilar Rau
  • Specialization: Anthropology of art and aesthetics, economic anthropology, exchange, globalization, indigeneity, language and culture, media, religion and ritual, social movements, tourism, video production, visual anthropology; Latin America, the Andes
  • Degree and University: PhD, U New York University, 2013
  • Office: RAB-308
  • Office Hours: Via GoogleChat or GoogleMeet (use ScarletMail app or email; pkr28@ScarletMail.Rutgers.edu)
  • Phone: 848-932-4120




I am a cultural anthropologist with a background in visual arts, media studies, and sociolinguistics. I specialize in the anthropology of religion, anthropology of art and aesthetics, visual anthropology, and economic anthropology, with a regional focus on Latin America. I also have professional experience in the arts and film and video production.

My dissertation, Aesthetics and Sacrifice: Pentecostalism, Tourist Art and the Capitalist Promised Land, tells the story of a Peruvian peasant community’s attempts to throw itself into global capitalist modernity through migration, craft production, and conversion to Pentecostal Christianity. In Cochas, nearly every man, woman, and child is involved in a family network that produces or sells gourds carved with scenes of rural native life for foreign consumers. I argue that this kinship-based tourist art empire reproduces the principles of reciprocity and sacrifice that have historically knit together their social, economic, and religious life. Artisans and pastors continue to use aesthetic prestations to create relationships with outsiders –such as foreign turistas and a Pentecostal God – who mediate a magical economy of health, wealth, political power, and spiritual potency. Female entrepreneurs employ similar practical logics to challenge their social and economic positions in local hierarchies. In spite of the historical resonances in their economic and networking strategies and the robustness of the local identity maintained by Cochasinos in diaspora, in lieu of the idea that “culture” causes an indigenous community to employ similar strategies in new historical circumstances, my practice-based approach examines how Cochasinos reproduce families and their peoplehood through concrete religious, aesthetic, and economic exchanges.

This summer I collaborated with Ananda Cohen, Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History at Cornell University to create video and photographic documentation of Colonial era religious murals in the Cusco region. I also conducted research on indigenous media consumption for my next project, Indigeneity, Ritual, and Media in the Neoliberal Peasant Village, which continues to examine the intersections of the economic, aesthetic, and ritual spheres. I examine how Peruvians, who were formerly marginalized from the consumption of nationalized media as low-income consumers and from full citizenship as peasant community or shanty town residents, take up digital media in a context recently transformed by neoliberal economic policy, religious conversion, and NGO efforts to democratize access to technology.


Anthropology Goes to the Movies
Anthropology of Latin America
Ethnography of Everyday Life
Rights and Wrongs of Indigenous Peoples
Visual Anthropology

Courses taught in other universities include:

Human Rights and Indigenous People
Human Society and Culture
Introduction to Anthropology
Latin America Societies and Cultures
Magic, Witchcraft, Religion
Visual Anthropology
World Cultures: Latin America
World Cultures: The Caribbean


Ph.D. in Anthropology, New York University, 2013
M.Phil. in Socio-cultural Anthropology, New York University, 2010
Graduate Certificate in Culture and Media, New York University, 2005
M.A. in Intercultural Communication. Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics.
University of Maryland Baltimore County, 2001
B.A. magna cum laude, with honors in Modern Languages and Linguistics, Art History, and
Studio Art, University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1996
Intensive Quechua Language School. Centro Tinku. Cusco, Peru, 2007
Intensive Quechua Language School. Colegio Andino, Bartolomé de las Casas. Cusco, Peru, 2007


Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship, 2007-2008
Wenner-Gren Foundation Individual Research Grant, 2007-2008
Tinker Foundation Field Research Grant, 2005


Henry M. MacCracken Fellowship. New York University, 2002-2011
Professional Development Grant. Center for Teaching & Learning University of Maryland University College, 2008
Title VI Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship, 2007
Deans Fellowship. New York University. 2002-2006


Hogue, Emily J. and Rau, Pilar. 2009. Troubled Water: Ethnodevelopment, Natural Resource Commodification, and Neoliberalism in Andean Peru. Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development. 37:3. 283-328.

In Preparation

The New Arrieros: Grandmothers, Buses, and the Tourist Art Archipelago.

Upcoming Presentations

Cornell University, 17 November 2014. Maverick Grandmothers, Long-distance Trade, and the Tourist Art Archipelago. Latin American Studies Program Seminar Series, Center for International Studies. Cornell University.

American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC, 3-7 December 2014. Navigating the mirror maze: Reflections on the carnivalesque in the ethnographic gaze. Writing Collaboration: Negotiating the Co-production of Anthropological Knowledge.

Queens College, April 2015 TBA On the Highway to Cuzco: Crafts and community in a pueblo joven at the belly button of the world. Anthropology Department. Queens College. New York.


Key grip, Wrestling with Joeylicious. Pilot episode “Mankind.” Joey Cassata, Christopher Lynn. NY, 2014-present.
Sound, Wrestling with Joeylicious. Pilot episodes “Tito Santana,” “Roddy Piper.” Joey Cassata, Christopher Lynn. NY, 2014- present.

Camera/sound Ununchis Kawsayninchis (Water is Life) (Spanish/Quechua) Dir. Emily Hogue. Combapata, Peru. 2009-present

Director/camera/editor. Esperanta Novjorko (2006). Screenings: Takoma Park Film Festival Washington, DC 2006; Esperanto Society of New York, 2006, 2007; Docs on the Edge, New York 2005.

Assistant Editor. Soy Andina. Director Mitch Teplitsky. New York. 2006.

Videographer. Hemispheric Institute for Performance & Politics. New York; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Belo Horizonte, Brazil. 2005-2007

2nd Camera, Vedado. Dir. Jason R. Crump. Mexico DF, Experimental ethnographic documentary, 2004.

Online Multimedia Projects

Indigenous Encuentros. Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. Electronic archive, 2005