Conference on Latin American History 69
This panel reunites four papers that explore the complex and conflictive relations between indigenous communities and the different levels of colonial authority in the Viceroyalty of Peru. The geographical focus is on a particular region of the Southern Andes, the ‘Altiplano’ in which Lake Titicaca is located and which today corresponds to the Peruvian ‘región’ of Puno and the Bolivian ‘departamento’ of La Paz. The papers explore the three centuries of colonial Spanish domination of the area, and the responses of the indigenous communities to colonial pressures through the efforts of their ethnic leaders, called ‘caciques’ by the Spaniards (‘Kurakas’ in Quechua, or ‘Jilacatas’ in Aimara). The papers discuss the long-term patterns of formal and informal relations between native communities and the external, trans-Andean and trans-Atlantic, colonial authorities in different sees of power. Local grievances travelled through the judicial colonial system from local levels of authority to the High Court in La Plata (today Sucre, Bolivia), the Viceroy’s court in Lima (Peru), and the Royal Court in Madrid (Spain). Each paper explore a particular ethnic group, colonial province, individual ethnic leader, or community institution, in order to show the complexities and ambiguities of the interactions between communities, their representatives, and the different colonial instances of authority from the mid-16th to the early-19th centuries. The ultimate roots of the significantly different roles the indigenous peasant communities had play in the political life of Peru and Bolivia during the 20th century until today are to be found in the paradoxical and contrasting experiences of the different colonial native leaders discussed in this panel.