Department ofHistory

Christopher Heaney

Christopher Heaney

Assistant Professor of Latin American History

413A Weaver Building

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (814) 863-0091


Curriculum Vitae:


PhD, University of Texas at Austin, 2016
BA, Yale University, 2003
Christopher Heaney Headshot


Christopher Heaney is a historian of Latin America, with research interests in the history of science, indigeneity, museums, race, and deathways in the Andes, Americas, and the World. He is the author of two books. His most recent, Empires of the Dead: Inca Mummies and the Peruvian Ancestors of American Anthropology (Oxford University Press, 2023), is a history of the collection and display of Inca mummies and ancient Peruvian skulls in the Americas, spanning from the 16th century to the present. His prior book, Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones and the Search for Machu Picchu (2010), was a history of Yale University’s conflict with Peru over the excavation of Machu Picchu, and advocated for the return of the site’s human remains and gravegoods to Peru. It was published in Spanish as Las Tumbas de Machu Picchu: La historia de Hiram Bingham y la Busqueda de las últimas ciudades de los Incas in 2012. His third book will be a history of the colonial laws regulating grave-robbing in the Anglo-Iberian Atlantic World, and their assault upon Indigenous sovereignty.

At Penn State, he trains undergraduate and graduate students in Colonial and Modern Latin American history, the history of Peru and the Incas, the history of science, and the cultural history of United States-Latin American relations. His approach to teaching presumes a Latin America that has always been modern, and an Americas and Atlantic World shaped by movements, infrastructures, and knowledges of Native peoples. In 2012, he co-founded and was the Editor-in-Chief of The Appendixa journal of narrative and experimental history. From 2016 to 2018 he was the Barra Postdoctoral Fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. His writing has been featured by The New YorkerThe Atlantic, and The New York Times.

Recent Publications:

“Skull Walls: The Peruvian Dead and the Remains of Entanglement,” American Historical Review, vol. 127, no. 3 (September, 2022), pp. 1071-1101.

“Compared to What? William Walker and Radical Republicanism in the 19th Century Americas,” Reviews in American History, 47, no. 3 (September, 2019): 370-9.

“Seeing Like an Inca: Julio C. Tello, Indigenous Archaeology, and Pre-Columbian Trepanation in Peru,” in Ned Blackhawk and Isaiah Wilner, eds., Indigenous Visions: Rediscovering the World of Franz Boas (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), pp. 344-377.

“How to Make an Inca Mummy: Andean Embalming, Peruvian Science, and the Collection of Empire,” Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society, vol, 109, no. 1 (March, 2018), pp. 1-27.

“Marrying Utopia: Richard Eden, Mary and Philip, Richard Eden, and the English Alchemy of Spanish Peru,” in Jorge Cañizares Esguerra, ed., Entangled Empires: The Anglo-Iberian Atlantic, 1500-1830 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), pp. 85-104.

Fair Necropolis: the Peruvian Dead, the first American Ph.D. in Anthropology, and the World’s Columbian Exposition of Chicago, 1893,” History of Anthropology Newsletter 41 (2017).

“A Peru of Their Own: English Grave-Opening and Indian Sovereignty in Early America,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., vol. 73, no. 4 (October, 2016), pp. 609-646.

“Conquests of Peru,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History (September, 2016).

Awards and Fellowships (selected):

Winner, Maureen Ahern Doctoral Dissertation Award in Colonial Latin American Studies, Latin American Studies Association. 2017.

Winner, Barnes F. Lathrop Prize for Best Dissertation, History Department of the University of Texas at Austin, 2017.

First Runner-up, Richmond F. Brown Dissertation Prize, Latin American Section (LACS) of the Southern Historical Association. 2017.

Barra Postdoctoral Fellow, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. 2016-2018

Fulbright-Hays Graduate Fellow, Lima, Peru. 2012-3

Social Science Research Council, Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship. 2010.

Fulbright Student Fellowship, Cusco, Lima, Peru. 2005-6


Areas of Specialization: