Indigenous Miners and the Making of the Andean Markets in Colonial Huancavelica

Author(s): Douglas Smit

Year: 2017


The mercury mines of Huancavelica have often been described through two familiar discourses in the colonial narrative, the European pursuit of wealth through extractive industries, and the simultaneous destruction of indigenous Andean communities through brutal forced labor and the corrosive effects of the colonial market. While these two historiographical traditions contain a great deal of truth, they can minimize the role of indigenous Andeans in the creation of new economic networks that eventually came to dominate the markets that developed around colonial mining centers. Drawing on household excavations and compositional analysis of ceramics found at Santa Barbara, the central settlement for indigenous miners, this paper will examine how different types of vessels moved in and out of commercial spheres of exchange. This research suggests that rather than seeing the colonial political economy as a singular set of capitalist practices exported from Europe that eventually produced a unitary market, an archaeological approach indicates the development of multiple and overlapping exchange networks produced by indigenous labor through their relations with each other and colonial institutions.

Cite this Record

Indigenous Miners and the Making of the Andean Markets in Colonial Huancavelica. Douglas Smit. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431353)


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): 17551