Stella Nair

Associate Professor, Department of Art History

Art History Profile
Dodd Hall 247J

Andean Lab
Architecture Lab

Phone: (310) 825-8232
Fax: (310) 206-4723


M.Arch University of California, Berkeley; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Areas of Interest

Material culture studies; cross-cultural exchange; hemispheric networks; landscape transformations; spatial theory; construction technology; design of Inca royal estates; Tiahuanaco stone carving; colonial Andean paintings; Brazilian urbanism


Trained as an architect and architectural historian, Nair has conducted fieldwork in Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, and the U.S. Midwest, with ongoing projects in the South Central Andes. Her research examines the art, architecture, and urbanism of indigenous communities in the Americas, before and after the arrival of Europeans. Nair’s scholarship is shaped by her interests in material culture studies, cross-cultural exchange, hemispheric networks, landscape transformations, spatial theory, and construction technology.

Nair’s publications explore a range of subjects and regions such as the design of Inca royal estates, Tiahuanaco stone carving, colonial Andean paintings, and Brazilian urbanism. She has received research grants and fellowships from the American Philosophical Association, the Center for the Study of the Visual Arts (National Gallery of Art), Dumbarton Oaks, the Fulbright Institute, the Getty Foundation, and the John Carter Brown Library.  Nair has published At Home with the Sapa Inca: Architecture, Space, and Legacy at Chinchero (University of Texas, 2015), and (with Jean-Pierre Protzen) The Stones of Tiahuanaco: A Study of Architecture and Construction (Cotsen 2013). Nair’s article “Localizing Sacredness, Difference, and Yachacuscamcani in a Colonial Andean Painting” was honored by its selection as one of thirty-two ‘greatest hits’ articles published in the last hundred years of the Art Bulletin.

Stella Nair is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art History. She is also Core Faculty in the Archaeology Interdepartmental Program and the Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies at UCLA. In addition, Nair is Affiliated Faculty with the American Indian Studies Center, the American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Program, and the Latin American Institute.

Nair is the Director of the Andean Laboratory and the Architecture Laboratory at the Cotsen Institute.


"The Lost Half of Andean Architecture: 18th Century Building Traditions and Environmental Use at Chinchero, Peru," (with Sonia Archila and Christine Hastor) in Latin American Antiquity 29, no. 2 (June 2018): 222-238.

At Home with the Sapa Inca: Architecture, Space, and Legacy at Chinchero. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015.

The Stones of Tiahuanaco: A Study of Architecture and Construction (with Jean-Pierre Protzen). Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, 2013. 

“Witnessing the In-Visibility of Inca Architecture in Colonial Peru, Buildings and Landscapes 14, no. 2 (Fall 2007): 50–65. 

“Localizing Sacredness, Difference, and Yachacuscamcani in a Colonial Andean Painting,” Art Bulletin 89, no. 2 (June 2007):209–238. 

"Who Taught the Inca Stonemasons Their Skills? A Comparison of Tiahuanaco and Inca Cut-Stone Masonry" (with Jean-Pierre Protzen), JSAH – Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 56, no. 2 (1997): 146–167.


The American Philosophical Association 

The Center for the Study of the Visual Arts (National Gallery of Art) 

Dumbarton Oaks

The Fulbright Institute 

The Getty Foundation 

The John Carter Brown Libary

Rome Prize

Guggenheim Foundation

Graduate Students

Nair is not currently accepting new graduate students.

Georgi Kyorlenski
Alba Menéndez Pereda
A.J. Meyer
Rachel Schloss
Gabriel Collins Silva
Alex Casteel

Recent PhDs

Kevin Hill
Jacob Bongers
(co-chair with Charles Stanish)
Ximena Gómez (co-chair with Megan Holmes)
Louise Deglin