How are injurious pasts redeployed by the dispossessed? After Servitude explores how agrarian engineers, Indigenous farmers, Mestizo mining bosses, and rural workers navigate racial hierarchies rooted in histories of forced agrarian labor. In the rural Bolivian province of Ayopaya, where the liberatory promises of property remain elusive, Quechua people address such hierarchies by demanding aid from Mestizo elites and, when that fails, through acts of labor militancy. Against institutional faith in property ownership as a means to detach land from people and present from past, the kin of former masters and servants alike have insisted that ethical debts from earlier racial violence stretch across epochs and formal land sales. What emerges is a vision of justice grounded in popular demands that wealth remain beholden to the region’s agrarian past. By tracing Ayopayans’ active efforts to contend with servitude’s long shadow, Mareike Winchell illuminates the challenges that property confronts as both an extractive paradigm and a means of historical redress.
By Mareike Winchell, author of After Servitude: Elusive Property and the Ethics of Kinship in Bolivia In 2010, I was just beginning an ethnographic study of Quechua water activists in Cochabamba. At …Read More >