This book challenges the notion of indigenous Latin American peasants as passive creatures, merely surviving in the shadow of their elite masters. Instead, peasants appear as resourceful and clever, using the system to survive and, in some cases, to survive well. . . . An important contribution.
A study of the growth of the indigenous labor force in upper Peru (now Bolivia) during colonial times. Ann Zulawski provides case studies in mining and agriculture, and places her data within a larger historical context than analyzes Iberian and Andean concepts of gender, property, and labor. She concludes that although mercantilism made a critical impact in the New World, the colonial economic system in the Andes was not yet capitalist. Attitudes of both indigenous peoples and Spanish colonizers hindered the process of turning work into a commodity. In addition, the mobilization of labor power both reinforced and undermined each society's ideas about the economic and social roles of men and women.
If one wants a wonderful window on the past, this is your book. It is a sophisticated study of the development of the labor force in Upper Peru (today Bolivia) during the 17th and 18th centuries. . . . [E]xcellent text.
Ann Zulawski has finely crafted this study of the dynamics of colonialism in Bolivia, deftly tracing the interplay of culture and economics in tow distinct (yet interrelated) ecological and economic niches: the highland mining center of Oruro and the fertile foothills province of Pilaya y Paspaya. . . . [S]he convincingly demonstrates that studies of culture and economics can and should engage one another.
An important contribution . . . especially to questions of population, labor and wages, gender, and acculturation.