Social structures, the domestic export and economies, and spiritual spheres within native Andean communities are key elements of analysis. Also highlighted is the persistence of duality in the Andean world: perceived dichotomies such as those between the coast and the highlands, Europeans and Indo-Peruvians. Even before the conquest, the Cabana and Collagua communities sharing the Colca Valley were divided according to kinship and location. The Incas, and then the Spanish, capitalized on these divisions, incorporating them into their state structure in order to administer the area more effectively, but Colca Valley peoples resisted total assimilation into either. Colca Valley communities have shown a remarkable tenacity in retaining their social, economic, and cultural practices while accommodating various assimilationist efforts over the centuries. Today’s population maintains similarities with their ancestors of more than five hundred years ago—in language, agricultural practices, daily rituals, familial relationships, and practices of reciprocity. They also retain links to ecological phenomena, including the volcanoes from which they believe they emerged and continue to venerate.
Noble David Cook is Professor of History at Florida International University. He is the author of Born to Die: Disease and New World Conquest, 1492–1650; The People of the Colca Valley: A Population Study; and Demographic Collapse: Indian Peru, 1520–1620.
Alexandra Parma Cook is an independent scholar. They are the coauthors of Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance: A Case of Transatlantic Bigamy and the coeditors and translators of The Discovery and Conquest of Peru, by Pedro de Cieza de León, both also published by Duke University Press.
For Deep Down Dark, the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Héctor Tobar received exclusive access to the miners and their tales. These thirty-three men came to think of the mine, a cavern inflicting constant and thundering aural torment, as a kind of coffin, and as a church where they sought redemption through prayer. Even while still buried, they all agreed that if by some miracle any of them escaped alive, they would share their story only collectively. Héctor Tobar was the person they chose to hear, and now to tell, that story.
The result is a masterwork or narrative journalism—a riveting, at times shocking, emotionally textured account of a singular human event. A New York Times bestseller, Deep Down Dark brings to haunting, tactile life the experience of being imprisoned inside a mountain of stone, the horror of being slowly consumed by hunger, and the spiritual and mystical elements that surrounded working in such a dangerous place. In its stirring final chapters, it captures the profound way in which the lives of everyone involved in the disaster were forever changed.