Sonia Alconini (Professor, Anthropology Department) is an anthropological archaeologist who specializes in the rise of sociopolitical complexity in ancient pre-Columbian societies. Originally from Bolivia, she has conducted research in the Andes for several decades. Alconini is particularly interested in exploring the frontiers of the Inka empire, and the ways in which these contested spaces affected on the dynamics of ancient borderland populations. Multidisciplinary in nature, her research draws from archaeology and ethnohistory in order to assess the materiality of colonial encounters, and the mechanics of ancient imperialism. She also uses different scales of analysis --ranging from the region, community and household levels-- to tease out the complexity of imperial and indigenous encounters.
Alconini has conducted research on the Southeastern Inka frontier, where the Inka confronted the belligerent Guaraní-Chiriguano tribes from the tropical lowlands. The results of this investigation were published several articles, including the book Southeastern Inka Frontiers: Boundaries and Interaction (University of Florida Press, 2016). She is currently conducting in the region to the east of the Titicaca basin the Kallawaya region, and the Inka frontier installation of Samaipata. Alconini has coedited the Oxford Handbook of the Incas (University of Oxford Press, 2018) with Alan R. Covey and Distant Provinces in the Inka Empire: Toward a Deeper Understanding of Inka Imperialism (University of Iowa Press, 2010), co-edited with Michael Malpass.