Equally concerned with the lives of ordinary Andean people and sweeping historical processes, this book unveils a complex colonial world of indigenous villagers and their Spanish neighbors from the ground up and in the process examines one of the most significant indigenous uprisings in the Americas. This rebellion, known by the name of its leader, Túpac Amaru, ignited in colonial Cuzco near the former Inca capital during the late eighteenth century (1780–83) and spread rapidly throughout much of the Andes. Led by the descendant of the last Inca ruler, the rebellion severely disrupted the colonial economy and proved to be the most serious challenge to Spanish authority in Latin America since the sixteenth century.
Focusing on the Cuzco provinces of Quispicanchis and Canas y Canchis, which were the wellspring of the rebellion, Ward Stavig examines the issues, values, and themes central to the lives of ordinary Andean women and men—senses of identity, conceptions of sexuality and gender, the threat of crime, the value placed on work, competition for land and its relation to cultural identity, and the impact of forced labor. Stavig interweaves an intimate and richly textured portrait of the lives of Native villagers with an analysis of economic and political colonial institutions to show not only how Native peoples in Cuzco made sense of their lives but also how their strategies of survival shaped colonial society.