Where the River Flows: Water Politics and Textile Production in Colonial Peru

Author(s): Maria Smith

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Water is intrinsically linked to textile production. The dye process requires a substantial amount of water to acquire a consistent and proper color. Colonial textile mills, known as obrajes, were strategically built near bodies of water for this reason. Obrajes significantly shaped colonial water politics. Their presence on the water changed waterscapes, or the way that local communities culturally and sensorially interacted with the water. Obrajes additionally altered the waterworld by changing how society and water sources were connected. The obrajes policies altered traditional textile production roles, often among new gendered and racialized lines, thus changing the ways people were connected with water. This paper focuses on the obraje de San Marcos de Chinchero (Ayacucho) to examine how obrajes changed the waterscape and the waterworld of the region. The obraje de San Marcos de Chinchero located in the Ayacucho region of Peru operated from the 1570s through the 1820s. Built on a Pre-Hispanic sacred landscape the obraje significantly defined how people interacted with and experienced the nearby Huancapi river and a tributary which runs alongside the obraje site. The obraje provides an excellent case study to understand the relationships between water politics and textile production in Colonial Peru.

Cite this Record

Where the River Flows: Water Politics and Textile Production in Colonial Peru. Maria Smith. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450006)

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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): 25966