People of the Volcano: Andean Counterpoint in the Colca Valley of Peru

Duke University Press
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While it now attracts many tourists, the Colca Valley of Peru’s southern Andes was largely isolated from the outside world until the 1970s, when a passable road was built linking the valley—and its colonial churches, terraced hillsides, and deep canyon—to the city of Arequipa and its airport, eight hours away. Noble David Cook and his co-researcher Alexandra Parma Cook have been studying the Colca Valley since 1974, and this detailed ethnohistory reflects their decades-long engagement with the valley, its history, and its people. Drawing on unusually rich surviving documentary evidence, they explore the cultural transformations experienced by the first three generations of Indians and Europeans in the region following the Spanish conquest of the Incas.

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.

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About the author

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.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Jun 27, 2007
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9780822389613
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Latin America / South America
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In the first half of the 1580s, Seville, Spain, confronted a series of potentially devastating crises. In three years, the city faced a brush with deadly contagion, including the plague; the billeting of troops in preparation for Philip II's invasion of Portugal; crop failure and famine following drought and locust infestation; an aborted uprising of the Moriscos (Christian converts from Islam); bankruptcy of the municipal government; the threat of pollution and contaminated water; and the disruption of commerce with the Indies. While each of these problems would be formidable on its own, when taken together, the crises threatened Seville's social and economic order. In The Plague Files, Alexandra Parma Cook and Noble David Cook reconstruct daily life during this period in sixteenth-century Seville, exposing the difficult lives of ordinary men, women, and children and shedding light on the challenges municipal officials faced as they attempted to find solutions to the public health emergencies that threatened the city's residents.
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