Community and the Contours of Empire: The Hacienda System in the Northern Highlands of Ecuador

Author(s): Zev Cossin

Year: 2017


Recent archaeological studies of Spanish colonialism have redirected scholarly attention both to the workings of imperialism and the multitude of ways in which marginalized populations navigated and remade the grids of power that constitute empire. A focus on the household and the materiality of everyday life has generated a rich body of evidence by which to tack between multiple scales of social life and foreground the material culture of daily life as constitutive elements in the making of social and political worlds. In Spanish America, the hacienda system was one means by which imperial logic took root. In this paper, I review preliminary archaeological investigations of the Hacienda Guachalá in the northern highlands of Ecuador, where excavations have begun to illuminate the domestic material realities of indigenous laborers and the lifeworlds they fashioned amidst profound social and economic transformation over the long nineteenth century. Focusing not only on access to material goods but also to the ways in which such goods foreground collective obligations and identities suggests that the concept of "community" is key to understanding daily negotiations of empire by indigenous actors. Importantly, this approach emphasizes the enduring effects of imperial designs after the end of formal colonialism.

Cite this Record

Community and the Contours of Empire: The Hacienda System in the Northern Highlands of Ecuador. Zev Cossin. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431082)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16179