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By Enrique Tandeter

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Extra resources for Coercion and market: silver mining in colonial Potosí, 1692-1826

Sample text

Ruggiero Romano suggested the initial theme for my research, supervised my doctoral thesis, criticized and stimulated, toler- Page xiii ated my delays, and, above all, from near and far, offered me his invaluable and constant friendship. In an unusual demonstration of generosity, John Lynch not only welcomed me during difficult years to the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of London when he served as director, but outside of any formal framework, he has acted as an exacting supervisor for my work.

46 As the 1801 account of the words and actions of the mita workers from Azángaro suggests, however, the special role of the mita in the colonial system, and its perception as such on the part of the indigenous communities, did not disappear with the captains general. On the contrary, in the rebellious era that began in 1780 we find elements which reiterated Page 23 the centrality of the mita in the relations between indigenous communities and the colonial state. José Gabriel Tupac Amaru, the future rebel leader, raised precisely this question when he presented himself before colonial authorities in defense of the Indians for the first time.

9 The profitable exploitation of such poor ore was possible only by processing sueltos and desmontes, that is, the unprocessed tailings left over from prior excavations. An unpublished mining dictionary, written in 1609 in Potosí, explained the process in this way: the entire cavity of the principal veins was being filled with that [ore] which was rejected for its low content and not worth the labor to bring out, and later, when there was no more rich metal, [this ore] was taken as good and was sought after and worked again until the present time.

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