History events at the IHR
Mitayos or Kajchas: Revisiting Labour in Eighteenth-Century Potosi
05 November 2013, 17:30 - 19:30
Event Type: Seminar
Rossana Barragan (International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam)
Abstract: This paper revisits key issues of forced and free labour and popular economic activity in the colonial silver mines of Potosí. It seeks to understand seeming paradoxes or tensions such as the coercion of mitayos (corvée laborers) and the liberty and tolerance shown toward the kajchas (called “mineral thieves” by the mining industrialists and other authorities); the crude deterioration in the condition of mitayos and the tangential role that the mita seems to have in Indian grievances about colonial burdens in courts and in the great rebellions in the Andes. I analyze the institutions of the mita (state-coordinated labor supply) and the kajcheo (mine-raiding) by linking them to rudimentary ore-mills. I argue that one cannot study the labor system without taking into account the articulation between distinct forms of work, which allows us to understand the complexity and the evolution of the workforce in Potosí.
Venue: The Court Room (Senate House, first floor)
London WC1E 7HU
Download a map of the central precinct with directions for getting to the University of London Senate House.