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Qaraqara-Charka — Mallku, Inka y Rey en la provincia de Charcas (siglos XV-XVII): Historia antropológica de una confederación aymara.

Qaraqara-CharkaTristan Platt, Thérèse Bouysse-Cassagne, Olivia Harris con el aliento de Thierry Saignes

La Paz: Institut Français d'Études Andines / Plural Editores / University of St Andrews / University of London / Inter-American Foundation / Cultural Foundation of the Bolivian Central Bank.

This 1000-page Franco-British collaboration consists of 500 pp of unpublished documentary sources, selected and transcribed from several Spanish and South American archives, that have enabled the authors to write 450 pp of strongly revisionist histories of the Inca and early Spanish empires, between the 15th and 17th centuries. This is achieved by taking the example of a large, hitherto little-known, Aymara-speaking dual confederation, the Qaraqara and the Charka, situated on the southeastern flank of the South-Central Andes. The documents are accompanied by introductions, and by presentations to the five Parts into which the documents are grouped by genre, as well as by two tables of contents (general and documentary) plus indices (groups, onomastic, geographical and analytical). It is designed for practical research and use.

The book follows critically the 16th and 17th century Aymara lords in proposing a comparison between the incorporation of the confederation into first Inca and then Spanish empires. In both cases this took place within an initial discourse of alliance and reciprocal gift exchange, which in time became increasingly asymmetrical. The authors illustrate the relations between source criticism and the possibilities of reconstructing pre-Hispanic and early colonial political economies, religious cosmologies and ritual practices, oscillating between conjunctural and long-durational analyses. Thus the colonial mitayos of Potosí recall their previous existence as pre-Hispanic "soldiers of the Inca", who had participated in the lightning and warrior cult of  the Porco silver mines, and still put on their war-gear when they went to Potosí to "fight with the mines" for the King of Spain. Different readings of the documents are made possible by differentiating the "archaeological" levels of their oral and written components, in spite of the fact that all are of colonial date.

Among several key themes is the way in which Andean memorial and administrative techniques (khipus, genealogies, woven maps, inscribed landscapes, etc.) interact with the introduction of European paper-based methods of governance, contributing to colonial and new literacy studies, as well as revealing differences and negotiations between Andean and European practices of power and administration.

Historical interpretation is situated in relation to the documents included in the volume, but also to a wide bibliography of interdisciplinary perspectives on connected regional and theoretical problems. The sources are seen as the product of a reflexively constituted tapestry of interactions and interrelations between Incas, Aymara lords and commons, Spanish and other European and mestizo conquerors and mediators, in which voices and perspectives from a wide variety of social positions are juggled and juxtaposed against an enduring geographical background of rivers, valleys and mountains. The struggles of the Aymara lords to resituate  themselves and their ecologically "vertical" régimes advantageously within the nascent colonial order is contrasted with the increasingly exploitative relationships which many developed with their dependent peasants, in the process of becoming salaried functionaries of the colonial State.

Illustrated with plates, tables, maps and figures, the book offers a contribution to studies of the formation of Early Modern States, and of the encounter between Europe and Amerindian civilization during the transition from the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation. This was in turn based on the industrial extraction, refining and circulation of American silver and gold, a capitalist and mercantile régime legitimized for Europeans through Spanish efforts at evangelization and the extirpation of idolatries. At the same time the book demonstrates Andean and Spanish awareness of the ambiguous ways in which pre-conquest Andean forms of government, warfare and even religion, might contribute to the efficacy and legitimacy of the emerging colonial State. It reveals the still under-recognized Amerindian participation in the creation of a Hispanic-American form of modernity.

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