The Indian Caste of Peru, 1795-1940: A Population Study Based upon Tax Records and Census Reports

The Indian Caste of Peru, 1795-1940: A Population Study Based upon Tax Records and Census Reports

The Indian Caste of Peru, 1795-1940: A Population Study Based upon Tax Records and Census Reports

The Indian Caste of Peru, 1795-1940: A Population Study Based upon Tax Records and Census Reports

Excerpt

The first half-century of Peruvian independence from Spain has for all practical purposes been an ethnohistorical blank. Knowledge of demographic processes until 1876 has been almost entirely lacking. The status, treatment, and behavior of the Indian population were virtually unknown. The processes and the rate of formation of the immense mestizo population of modern Peru were unknown. The effects of large and rapid concentration of land in the hands of few owners, are still undescribed from an ethnohistorical point of view. For all these problems evidence has heretofore been lacking, excepting in the random impressions of foreign travelers in Peru.

Peru fortunately possesses an abundant demographic record covering the second quarter of the nineteenth century. It appears in the tax lists, or matrículas, of the period 1826-54. In these tax lists the inhabitants of Peru are classified by caste and by vocation. The matrículas (pl. 1 gives a sample of their workmanship) are mainly preserved in the Archivo Histórico del Ministerio de Hacienda, where they have been cataloged and filed under the direction of Federico Schwab. Several more volumes of the same series are kept in the Archivo Nacional and in the archive of the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, at the Palacio Torre Tagle: they are noted in the text and Bibliography. The main collection, numbering 160 volumes at the Archivo Histórico del Ministerio de Hacienda, is incomplete. Reports from many provinces and in many quinquennial periods are lacking. As the period 1826-54 contains six taxation periods at 5-year intervals, during which the head count was made for all Peruvians in 58 provinces, we may assume that 348 reports would ideally have been prepared, each in four sections. But provincial cooperation frequently failed. Many provinces sent no reports to Lima. Many reports were lost in transit and in the archival disorder of the past 80 years. Where and when the missing reports will be found is a matter of conjecture. For the present it is clear that the surviving matrículas, 164 in number (table 1), allow a remarkably detailed interpretation of Peruvian demographic processes, when combined with other sources of the period. Such sources are preserved in the Archivo Histórico, in a separate file of decrees and correspondence relating to tax legislation, tax collection, and administrative procedure (see Bibliography, under Archival Sources).

As in the Colonial era, demographic information was a byproduct of tax collection. The Colonial system of tribute, revived in 1826 as the contribución de indígenas, continued in force until 1854. The tax collectors of this era followed the practice of their Colonial predecessors in the main lines, but they enriched it with a more inclusive network . . .

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