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Alana Cordy-Collins, PhD

Professor, Anthropology
Curatorial Director, David W. May American Indian Collection & Gallery

Alana Cordy-Collins, PhD, joined the USD faculty in 1980.  She is a professor of Anthropology and director of the David W. May American Indian Collection and Gallery. In the Department of Anthropology, Cordy-Collins offers undergraduate courses in archaeology, shamanism, research, writing, and museology.  Her research focus is the prehistoric cultures of Peru, especially the Lambayeque, Moche, and Chavín-Cupisnique. She is currently most involved in comparative studies of shamanism, especially among Circum-Polar peoples, prehistoric and contemporary. Dr. Cordy-Collins has been awarded two USD University Professorships, one research-based and the other recognition-based.  She designed and organized the university’s American Indian Celebration (2002-2004).


PhD, University of California, Los Angeles; Archaeology
MA, University of California, Los Angeles; Archaeology
BA, University of California, Los Angeles; Art History

Scholarly and Creative Work

Cordy-Collins’ primary research focuses on the prehistoric peoples of the Peruvian north coast, drawing on almost 40 years of archaeological experience.  Her continuing research, The Moche Giants of Ancient Peru,  investigates a group of elite men from the 4th c CE whose physical condition makes them the first giants recorded in the Americas.  Cordy-Collins has edited more than half-a-dozen books, and authored more than 35 articles and book chapters.  Her most recent publications are “The Sacred Deer Complex: Out of Eurasia” (with former students Rebekah Shepherd, Abigail Jasper, Lynn Shepard, Maria Donnelly, and Elizabeth Gordon) in Adventures in Pre-Columbian Studies: Illuminating the Past and Imagining the Future: A Symposium in Honor of Elizabeth P. Benson, J. Jones (ed.): 136-156.  Pre-Columbian Society of Washington, D.C. (2010); “Curated Corpses and Scattered Skeletons: New Data and New Questions concerning the Moche Dead” in Andean Civilization: A Tribute to Michael E. Moseley, J. Marcus and P.R. Williams (eds.): 181-193.  Cotsen Institute for Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles (2009).  An extension of her Andean research entails prehistoric contact between Peruvians and Mesoamericans.  Her article “The Northern Moche World at the Beginning of the Eighth Century and the Role of the Jequetepeque Valley,” for Advances in North Coast Archaeology: State and Empire in the Jequetepeque Valley, I. Johnson and C. Donnelly (eds.) discusses the evidence (in press).

Teaching Interests

Cordy-Collins has taught a variety of courses at USD, including Introduction to Archaeology, as well as upper-division courses concerned with prehistoric Americans, museology, shamanism and creativity, and applied anthropology.  In addition to teaching departmental classes, Cordy-Collins has participated in team-taught, interdisciplinary freshmen seminars on Latino Studies and New World cultures.  Honors Program team-teaching projects have focused on world shamanism and Holocene human impact on the Americas.