Stella Nair, associate professor of art history, has been recognized with a 2021-2022 research excellence award by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women. Nair was honored for her current book project, “Shelter, Shrine, and Prison: The Acllauasi and Other Spaces for Women in the Inca Empire,” which re-examines the built environment of the Inca Empire as it pertained to gender.

This research will be the first in-depth study of the acllauasi, which translates to “house of the chosen women,” and of female space in the Inca Empire, confronting long-held paradigms about the history of Inca architecture and gender in Andean spaces.

Nair’s scholarship focuses on the built environment of Indigenous communities in the Americas. Trained as an architect and architectural historian, Nair has conducted fieldwork in Bolivia, Mexico, Peru and the United States, with ongoing projects in the south central Andes.

Nair directs the Andean laboratory and the architecture laboratory at the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. She also advises the Andean working group, which brings together Andean specialists in the greater Los Angeles region to share research. Along with history professor Kevin Terraciano, the Dr. E. Bradford Burns Professor in Latin American Studies, Nair advises the indigenous material and visual culture reading group, which joins students and faculty working on indigenous material culture from 1450 through 1850.

Jointly established with the UCLA Institute of American Cultures, the awards are given to associate professors whose research address questions important to the fields of critical race and postcolonial studies and/or gender, sexuality and ethnic studies.