Land, Labor, and Status: A perspective from Colonial Cusco, Peru.

Author(s): Raymond Hunter; Steve Kosiba

Year: 2017


Access to land is an important marker of status in agrarian societies. During the Andean Late Horizon (c.1400-1532), land differences grounded status distinctions: nobles developed monumental estate farms and kin-oriented communities collectively administered patchwork fields. Under the Spanish colonial system (1532-1824) access to land and labour came to differentiate status in new ways. Spaniards appropriated labor and property, while indigenous nobility contested Spanish rule and staked new claims to authority by advocating for control of lands that had been Inca estates. During these decades of social crisis, many Andeans detached themselves from traditional lands, becoming itinerant outsiders (forasteros), or landless laborers (yanakuna). Little is known about these new categories of subjectivity and their impact on the Andean social landscape. In this paper we treat land as a category of material culture that can render status legible to archaeologists. We consider the circumstances under which social actors might severe ties to land, a political tactic to create an inconspicuous way of life beneath the scrutiny of state authorities. Archaeological survey data, GIS analysis, and historical documents provide evidence of how Andean people sought to define their land and their identity in early colonial Cusco, Peru.

Cite this Record

Land, Labor, and Status: A perspective from Colonial Cusco, Peru.. Raymond Hunter, Steve Kosiba. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431086)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16866