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Vicos Collection

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The Vicos Collection documents one of the most ambitious projects of applied anthropology ever attempted in Latin America. The collection takes its name from an hacienda in the northern highlands (Ancash province) of Peru which for many decades practiced commercial agriculture with a servile, native American labor force. Over fifteen years, beginning in 1951, Cornell University administered a series of enterprises designed to bring the residents of Vicos from serfdom into the modern world.

Under Allan R. Holmberg's vigorous leadership, the Cornell Peru Project introduced primary education, modern agricultural techniques and government by consensus to "Vicosinos." At the same time, the former hacienda became something of a laboratory for social science research. The population was surveyed psychologically, physiologically, and economically. Summer research programs from a number of North American universities and Peace Corps training took place in Vicos. Holmberg's premature death in 1966 coincided with the end of the Cornell's formal involvement with the community.

The debate over the efficacy of the Vicos project, and of applied social sciences, endures to this day.

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