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The World of Tupac Amaru: Conflict, Community, and Identity in Colonial Peru.

The World of Tupac Amaru: Conflict, Community, and Identity in Colonial Peru. By Ward Stavig (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1999. xxxiv plus 348pp. $60.00/cloth $25.00/paperback).

In recent years studies of Andean rural history have multiplied, and there have been some controversies between scholars over philosophical and methodological approaches. One approach is essentially qualitative, although this approach is sometimes cloaked in what is presented as theory, is loaded down with highly esoteric jargon, or is based upon a claim of privilege to suspend evidentiary and interpretive norms. Examples are presented to document general patterns, and the assumption made is that the case studies indeed are representative of patterns found at one point in time as well as of changes that occurred over time. A quantitative approach, when done properly, uses numerical data to establish a baseline at a point in time, and other numerical data to document changes that occurred over time. The preponderance of the evidence is marshalled to show how society changed over time, and no doubt is left as to whether or not evidence presented is indeed representative. Studies of the evolution and transformat ion of land tenure, patterns of migration, and demographic change are generally more effective when based upon extensive rather than selective and perhaps unrepresentative data.

My sermon is leading to a point that I want to make. In this volume Ward Stavig sets out to understand the rural society of colonial Cuzco (Canas y Canchis-Tinta and Quispicanchis) toward the end of the eighteenth-century, at the time of the massive rebellion launched in 1780 by Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui, better know as Tupac Amaru. Following a lengthy introduction that establishes a philosophical and methodological approach to the study, Stavig examines a variety of topics. The topics include the colonial heritage, sexual mores and marriage, crime, land struggles among indigenous peoples and Spaniards, different indigenous communities, and the state, labor for Spaniards, community identity and the Potosi mita, rebellion and Tupac Amaru, and finally a short final thought on the study. Stavig essentially uses a qualitative approach (there are several tables that record numbers of tributaries) that works in some instances, but does not in other areas of analysis that, to my way of thinking, should be quantifie d. At all times Stavig assumes that the examples presented are representative, and indeed substantiate his interpretations.

Stavig does not present the context for his study, and attempts to present evidence of change without a baseline. Stavig relies on court cases to discuss marriage patterns and sexual norms, when quantification of data from parish marriage registers would be more effective in presenting broader patterns. The author dedicates several chapters to a discussion of disputes over land and water rights, and the erosion of the land base of the corporate indigenous communities. Stavig does present detailed examples of disputes drawn primarily from legal records, but several things are lacking in his analysis. How many haciendas and communities were there in the jurisdictions that Stavig analyzes? How much community land passed into the hands of hacienda owners? How much land was involved in the periodic judicial examinations of private titles (composicion de tierras)? What was the short and long-term demographic effect of the 1719-1720 epidemic the author discusses in the context of land tenure, land use, and disputes over land and water rights? The author also discusses hacienda and obraje (textile mill) labor. My impression is that Stavig really does not understand the dynamic of hacienda labor, and, although the discussion of obraje labor is illuminating the author provides no information on the number of mills or the total size of the mill labor force.

There are several solid chapters, the ones dealing with the mita (labor draft) and the origins of the 1780 uprising. In discussing the Potosi mita Stavig establishes a foundation in earlier studies, and uses these studies to present the context for the specific examples he draws from the areas examined in this book. Perhaps the strongest chapter is the final one that explores the 1780 rebellion launched by Tupac Amaru, specifically the origins of the conflagration. Stavig uses previously published studies by Scarlett O'Phelan-Godoy and Jurgen Golte for context, and then examines how the allure of the Inca past and personal relations among curacas, priests, and colonial officials framed the decision made by individuals and communities either to join the rebels in 1780, or to side with the colonial regime. Stavig also presents interesting details on the larger extended family of Tupac Amaru, and their fate following the failed uprising.

On balance the book does not present a complete view of the rural society of Cuzco before and during the Tupac Amaru uprising. Stavig does provide interesting examples and some interesting interpretations, but he does not provide a context for his research. Nor does he link most of his findings to the 1780 uprising, or make the connections through analysis and interpretation. In the end topics such as gender relations within indigenous corporate communities appear to have had little to do with what ultimately provoked Tupac Amaru to rebel. This book is worth reading for the insights it provides on certain aspects of rural life, but it is by no means the definitive work on the subject.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Jackson, Robert H.
Publication:Journal of Social History
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 22, 2000
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