Charles Walker, ed. Entre la retorica y la insurgencia: las ideas y los movimientos sociales en los Andes, siglo XVIII. Cuzco, Peru: Centro de Estudios Regionales Andinos, 1996. 362 pp. No price listed (paper), ISBN 978-84-8387-029-7.
Reviewed by Hugh Convery (University of Alabama)
Published on H-LatAm (December, 1996)
Theory and Practice
Nine authors present articles in this work, which culminated from a 1993 Paris colloquium on "The Eighteenth Century in the Andes." Each essay considers different aspects of the social and intellectual foundations of the political unrest that erupted throughout the Andean region during that period. Influenced by the latest trends in social and cultural history, the contributors attempt to transcend the division that frequently exists between the history of ideas and the history of social movements. The book, argues compiler Charles Walker, "provides an excellent panorama of the state of research on the history of ideas and social movements in the Andes during the eighteenth century" (p. 10).
The reviewer agrees. The articles in this book are some of the best attempts to apply recent methodology, which has so benefited research on other events (such as Furet and Habermas's work on the French Revolution), to Latin American events, specifically the Tupac Amaru revolts in the 1780s. This dedication to newer methods, however, occasionally overwhelms the scholarship therein; Rossana Barragan's sixteen graphs and schematics quickly come to mind. To say these essays are at times pedantic would be an understatement. Nonetheless, for those readers who are motivated to work though the difficult readings (certainly not survey students), there are many worthwhile rewards.
Juan Carlos Estenssoro, for example, demonstrates the unique evolution of a plebeian Enlightenment by examining the Bourbon government's attempt (led by Alberto Chosop, Procurer General of Indians in Lima) to regulate popular dance. In conflicts in 1779 over the government's effort to prohibit the traditional indigenous "dance of devils," and in 1790 over its ban on a negro academy of "French" dance, Estessoro finds evidence that the masses took their "enlightenment" into their own hands, thereby rejecting the government-sponsored version. Victor Peralta Ruiz attempts to deepen our understanding of that elite version of the Enlightenment by placing into context the works of three important mid-eighteenth-century writers: Victorino Montero, Antonio Garro, and Isidoro de Cala. Previously these authors and others of the school of "proyectismo" have been used mistakenly as examples of pro-independence or hispanist sentiments. Understanding the situation within which they wrote, specifically the debate between Jesuit and Franciscan scholasticism, reveals that these authors were actually pro-monarchists.
While the above authors revise previous scholarship on the extent and impact of the Enlightenment, Jorge Hidalgo, Sergio Serulnikov, and Nuria Sala i Vila seek to expand the boundaries of the revolt itself. Hidalgo demonstrates that the response of indigenous groups in Arica, Tarapaca, and Atacama (today Northern Chile, not usually considered leading participants in the Tupac Amaru revolts) to the Bourbon Reform raising of the alcabala in the 1770s differed both from those in the North and from each other. He argues that each of these provinces carried out its own resistance in different ways and argues for further geographic specialization, which would emphasize the demographic differences that existed. Sala i Vila argues that Huarochiri, an area previously considered a "late expression of the grand rebellion," actually had a fairly independent history of resistance and that Ynga Yupanque should be viewed as an autonomous rebel rather than a victim of his family ties (he was related to Tupac Amaru). She adds that greater geographic specialization provides more insight into the direct reasons for the failure of the revolt. Serulnikov argues that researchers have overlooked the interplay between legal and violent resistance, using Tupac Catari's efforts in Chayanta to seek legal remedies as an example. He seems, however, to be unaware of Tupac Amaru's similar efforts to seek recompense from the Cortes at La Plata. Both men's legal failures, and similar turns to violent revolt, seem to weaken Surulnikov's hypothesis.
Revision being a central theme of the books, Walker's own contribution focuses on highlighting the few alternative voices that offered a less negative view of the Indian in the post-Tupac Amaru era. Responding to the European criticism of Latin America Peruvian writers like Unanue and Pedro Nolasco Crespo refuted such arguments and thereby offered a weak defense of the continent's indigenous population. A second, though weak, type of defense can be found in the post-rebellion anti-Indian writings of authors like Miguel de Eyzaguirre and Jose de Larrea y Loredo, who countered darker, biological explanations of the Indian problem with more optimistic opinions about the social origins of the problem and thus the reformability of the Indian. Emilio Garzon Heredia's focus is on countering those historians who have argued that the clergy were supportive of the rebellious Indians. He notes the role of the clergy, especially the secular clergy that followed Bishop Juan Manuel de Moscoso y Peralta, who actually formed an ecclesiastic militia to combat the Indians.
As if to emphasize their devotion to modern methods, these essayists offer one of the first debates on a recent theory regarding the uprising: Scarlett O'Phelan Godoy's hypothesis that the Bourbon Reform measure of raising the alcabala in the 1770s was the direct cause of the uprisings. O'Phelan defends the theory herself in the concluding chapter, responding to some previous criticisms about the chronology of the reforms, the increase in the alcabala, and the arrival of Viceroy Areche. Rossana Barragan, using extensive data on government revenue from tribute and alcabala, argues that there is no increase relative to the total revenue collected by the government. In her essay, which deals primarily with elite differentiation just prior to Bolivian independence, she provides evidence that the role of the alcabala actually diminished through the eighteenth century. From the opposite perspective, Hidalgo's essay, as mentioned above, found that response to the increase in the alcabala differed from town to town, cacique to cacique. He thereby rejects any structural explanation, seeking instead a case-by-case analysis. In reaction, O'Phelan argues that the increase in the alacabala and the arrival of Areche marked not just an economic structural change but a religious and political upheaval as well.
This type of historiographical bickering is typical. Each author spends a great deal of time outlining the bibliographical precedents to his or her argument, with names like Macera and Galindo Flores coming up in every essay. Of course this has the added benefit of yielding a good bibliography (though with a preponderance of French Revolution titles), provided separately at the end of the book. Other trends run throughout these essays as well. One such trend is the attempt to define an intellectual history "from below," as in Estenssorro's essay. Another is the expansion of the structuralist explanation of social movements to accommodate other possibilities, such as those that challenge O'Phelan's explanation. A third theme is the geographic extension of the study of the eighteenth-century rebellions, as seen in the essays dealing with Huarochiri, Arica, and Chayanta. The application of these new approaches provides many new views on the uprisings, but above all else it demonstrates the need for greater research on this event and other such similar instances in Latin American history--a result I am sure the authors would be pleased to achieve.
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Hugh Convery. Review of Walker, Charles, ed., Entre la retorica y la insurgencia: las ideas y los movimientos sociales en los Andes, siglo XVIII.
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