Cultivating Ideology: Food Production in Colonial Cusco, Peru

Author(s): Raymond Hunter

Year: 2018


Historical and archaeological research on the Colonial Andes and Spanish colonialism more broadly has drawn parallels between the conversion of indigenous populations to Catholicism and the conversion of agricultural land to ‘Christian’ food production. This scholarship contends that for colonizers, religious conversion was irrevocably connected to agricultural practice – a particular concern to Spaniards in the Andes given the strong links between agrarian production and Inka ritual practices.

Evidence from the site of Markaqocha, in the Cusco region of Peru, both corroborates and complicates arguments that link religious and ecological conversion. At Markaqocha, archaeological, historical, and paleo-environmental data provide a lens on Inka and Colonial ritual economies. These data suggest that while the intervention of religious organizations was critical to initial attempts to convert from an Inka to Spanish political ecology, the connections this process affirmed between ritual spaces and agricultural production later prompted conflict between secular and religious institutions. Further, data from Markaqocha suggest that attempts at such a conversion were not entirely successful. The data demonstrate that pre-Colonial and Catholic ritual practices have together influenced food production in the vicinity of the site through the five centuries since the arrival of colonizers in the region.

Cite this Record

Cultivating Ideology: Food Production in Colonial Cusco, Peru. Raymond Hunter. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445178)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -82.441; min lat: -56.17 ; max long: -64.863; max lat: 16.636 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21243