Legacies of Colonial Dislocation: Resettlement, Agricultural Deintensification and Infrastructural Reclamation in Huarochirí, Peru
Oré Menéndez, Gabriela de los Ángeles
During a single decade—the 1570s—Francisco de Toledo, fifth Viceroy of Peru, executed Reducción General de Indios (General Resettlement of Indians)—which forcibly displaced some 1.4 million Indigenous Andeans into over a thousand compact, planned colonial towns (called reducciones—literally, “reductions”). Colonial authorities instituted this massive resettlement program to facilitate state surveillance, tax collection, and Catholic evangelization. The General Resettlement dislocated Andean communities not only from their ancestral homes, but also from the intensive agricultural systems that supported them. For these reasons, The Reducción has long been characterized as an epochal historical disjuncture that brought many Andean cultural practices and institutions to their definitive end. Yet little archaeological and ethnohistorical research has focused on the down-the-line effects of the General Resettlement, and how Andean communities responded to its dislocations. This dissertation focuses on these long-term legacy effects of the General Resettlement in the context of Huarochirí Province in the highlands of the Department of Lima, Peru. It traces out how the communities of Huarochirí dynamically responded to the dislocations of forced colonial resettlement by (partially or wholly) abandoning reducciones and establishing new post-Reducción villages. I hypothesize that the process of establishing these post-Reducción villages was driven by a combination of push and pull factors. The oppressive, exploitative, and impoverished conditions of life in the reducciones acted as push factors impelling Huarochirí communities to “vote with their feet” and establish new settlements. The concretized labor embodied in ancestral agricultural infrastructure, I hypothesize, acted as pull factors that attracted the constituent ayllus (Andean corporate kin groups) of reducciones to (re)establish new villages nearer to their irrigated field and terrace systems. I use a holistic approach to test these hypotheses, integrating multispectral satellite remote sensing and geospatial analyses with ethnohistorical methods to investigate processes of agricultural reclamation carried out by indigenous communities in the centuries following the General Resettlement. These analyses document the foundation of post-Reducción villages between the 17th and early 19th centuries, CE, and demonstrate that they are located significantly closer to agricultural complexes of pre-Hispanic origin than the reducciones. Thus, even as the General Resettlement did cause untold disruption and hardship, these findings illustrate how Andean communities responded creatively and rationally to ensure a measure of continued well-being and self-determination. My research challenges colonizers' utopic narratives claiming to have established "order" while demonstrating indigenous ingenuity and agency in challenging such colonial impositions.