Mountain Pastoralism and Spatial Mobility in the South-Peruvian Andes in the Age of State Formation (1880-1969 and Beyond)

By Sendon, Pablo F. | Nomadic Peoples, December 2009 | Go to article overview

Mountain Pastoralism and Spatial Mobility in the South-Peruvian Andes in the Age of State Formation (1880-1969 and Beyond)


Sendon, Pablo F., Nomadic Peoples


Abstract

The process of inclusion of the colonial 'Republic of Indians' into the framework of the Peruvian state involved a series of changes in the Indian's judicial status. This article examines the legal metamorphosis experienced by a shepherd population in Southern Peru, Phinaya, on the basis of both historical and ethnographical information. The aim of the article is to examine the extent to which republican policies designed during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries recognized the existence of shepherd populations in the territory of the nation. It also explores to what extent, if any, the twentieth century policies designed to incorporate these populations within a national territory newly defined by its boundaries took account of their patterns of social organization in relation to one aspect of south Peruvian pastoralism: spatial mobility.

Keywords: shepherd populations, southern Peru, nation state policies, spatial mobility, social organization

Introduction

The existence of contemporary shepherd populations devoted to the raising of alpaca, llama and sheep in Southern Peru has been well documented by ethnographic research (Flores Ochoa 1977, 1988; Medinacelli 2005; Orlove and Custred 1980; Ricard Lanata 2007a; Sendon 2005a; Webster 1973). Although these works have described and analysed many of the economic, political, symbolic, and ritual aspects of high Andean pastoralism--in several cases outlining its specificities and differences in relation to Andean farmers and even shepherd populations from other regions--little attention has been paid to the history of Peruvian shepherds during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Jacobsen 1993; Orlove 1977; Piel 1983; Pozo-Vergnes 2007). Even less attention has been paid to a fundamental feature of their economy: spatial mobility (Browman 1974; Custred 1974). This article examines the legal and judicial changes experienced by the shepherd population of Phinaya in southern Peru. This examination is based on government records of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the ethnographic record of my own fieldwork and other ethnographic studies of the region. The aim of the article is to show to what extent the republican policies designed during the nineteenth century and onwards recognized the existence of shepherd populations in the national territory. (1) It also explores how twentieth century policies particularly, but not exclusively, the Agrarian Reform of 1969--responded to one of the main problems of a population exclusively engaged in the raising of alpaca, llama and sheep: namely, spatial mobility.

The Legal Record

The long process of inclusion of the erstwhile 'Republic of Indians' into the territorial, political, legal and moral framework of the Peruvian state involved a series of changes in the judicial status of its populations. Immediately after Peruvian Independence (1821), the first liberal policies decreed the abolition of their 'indigenous' status, so that its members could be incorporated as 'citizens' into the new nation. Accordingly, these 'new citizens' were not only declared individual owners of their formerly communal lands, but were also given the fight to sell them at their will in a context that favoured and stimulated the creation of a land market. Although there were exceptions to this legal flame, during the first hundred years of Peruvian republican history, the indigenous populations were set adrift without any kind of formal recognition of either their privileges or their institutional status (Urquieta 1993). According to some authors, this set a precedent for the division between peasants and Creole landholders in their struggle for the control and possession of land during the nineteenth century (Nunez Palomino 1996). In south Peruvian historiography, this is the period of expansion of the hacienda system. (2)

This state of affairs began to change in the first quarter of the twentieth century when, among several policies that dealt with the 'Indian problem', the government granted constitutional recognition to 'indigenous communities' in 1920. …

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