Department of Social Anthropology

Prof Tristan Platt

Emeritus Professor

Prof Tristan Platt

Phone: (01334 46) 2983

Office: Room 1, United College


South America, Andes, Bolivia; Language, writing and politics; history and anthropology; liberalism and rebellion; textuality and silence; myth, memory and archive; colonialism, postcolonialism and ethnogenesis; mining, metallurgy and money; migration


I studied classical languages, history and philosophy for my MA, and then took a two year conversion course in Social Anthropology at the LSE, before living for over a year with the Macha Ayllu in Northern Potosi (Bolivia) in 1970-71.

In 1973 I returned to the Andes and lived there till 1983, writing, publishing, and re-visiting the "field" and the "archive". I worked with the University of Tarapacá (Arica 1973-75); the National Museum of Ethnography (La Paz 1976-77); a Ministry of Labour and World Bank-funded research project on peasants and markets (La Paz 1977-79); the Institute of Peruvian Studies (Lima) and the National Archive of Bolivia (Sucre) on mining and economic space (1980-1984); an ESRC-CNRS Franco-British research project on state and society in the Andes (1985-87).

I came to St Andrews in 1988 to join the Anthropology Department and direct the Institute of Amerindian Studies. Between 1993 and 1998 I took five years' leave working with the University of Salamanca (Spanish Min of Education-funded sabbatical, 1993-4); an EC research project in Bolivia on traditional and appropriate methods of childbirth (Quechua, with Trinity College Dublin and three Bolivian partner institutions, 1994-5); J.S. Guggenheim Research Fellow (1996) working on mining and refining in the Hispanic world; and with a British Academy Small Grant (1997) to work up a publication on Alvaro Alonso Barba (2000, see below).

I have also worked as anthropological consultant and project evaluator for several development projects in Bolivia.

See also the PURE research profile.

Academic qualifications

MA (Oxon), Diploma Soc. Anthr. (LSE)

Selected publications


'"Spanish Quicksliver", a Preliminary Note: THe London Market, Global Trade and the Rothschild Monopoly (1820-50)'. In: The Rothschild Archive Review. 

Qaraqara-Charka: Malku Inka y Rey en la Provincia de Charcas: Historia Antropologica de unafederacion Aymara (2nd Edition). Bouysse-Cassagne, T. & Harris, O., La Paz: Plural Editores, La Paz, Bolivia. 1088 p.


'Chungara Revista de Antropologia Chilena: Numero especial dedicado a la Memoria del Dr John V. Murra'. In: Salomon, F., Hidalgo, J., Santoro, C., Castro, V., Nuñez, L., Aldunate, C. & Standen, V. G. (eds.). Chungarà Revista Chilena de Antropología. 42, 1

'John V. Murra, Actor (Odessa 1916 - Ithaca, NY2006): La retorica de la exageration'. In : Chungarà Revista Chilena de Antropología. 42, 1, p. 49-57.

'Review of Andres Guerrero, Administracion de Poblaciones, Ventriloquia y Transescritura'. In: Ecuador Debates.


'History of the Incas - by Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa'. In : Bulletin of Latin American Research. 28, 4, p. 575-577.

'Music and the Poetics of Production in the Bolivian Andes - by Henry Stobart'. In: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 15, 1, p. 208-209.

'From the Island's Point of View: Warfare and Transformation in an Andean Vertical Archipelago'.  In : Journal de la Société des Américanistes. 95, 2, p. 33-70.

'Tributo y Ciudadania en Potosi, Bolivia'. In: Dinámicas de poder local en América Latina. García Jordán, P. (ed.). University of Barcelona p. 109-163.


'"The Weak and the Strong'. Monetary Policies, Spheres of Exchnage and Crises of Trust in q9th Century Potosi (Bolivia)'. 2008 CAS Occasional Paper 31, University of St Andrews. 93 p.


For some other publications, see Tristan Platt, Staff, Centre for Amerindian Studies (CAS).


Research interests

Language, writing and politics; history and anthropology; liberalism and rebellion; textuality and silence; myth, memory and archive; colonialism, postcolonialism and ethnogenesis; mining, metallurgy and money; migration.

Research projects 

Arts and Humanities Research Board 2002

I am at present working with a PAI-Alliance Grant (CNRS Paris and doctoral candidates) on "Ethnic Mosaics and Frontiers in the Bolivian Pie-de-Monte" (2006-7). 

Research students

Luz Martínez Santamaría


SA4850: Andes

Quechua language and culture; Andes; anthropology and the philosophy of history; writing, colonialism and ethnogenesis; the anthropology of childbirth; the anthropology of mathematics; orality and literacy.
I also teach in Master's and Doctoral Programmes at the Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Seville) and the Casa de America and Universidad Complutense (Madrid).

I have taught at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris 1985, 1999) and at the Centre for Pre-Colombian Studies (Warsaw 1991, 2003), as well as in postgraduate programmes at many other Universities in Europe, Latin America and the USA.

<- back to staff list