Peruvian history, Hierarchy, Social standing, Late-Colonial Era


In colonial Peru, Spanish-Indian relations revolved around taxes and tribute labor. Regarding the latter, the Spanish elite required the conquered Andean communities to provide workers for colonial industries. Though the Spanish-whether born in Spain (Peninsular) or in the New World ( Criollo or Creole)- had the upper hand in this arrangement, they did not have total control. The relationship was, rather, one of hegemony. Historian Florencia Mallon described hegemony as a "dynamic or precarious balance, a contract or agreement [that] is reached among contesting forces." In Peru, tribute labor facilitated this kind of balance. Specifically, the Indians respected Spanish rule and provided taxes and labor, and the Spanish respected Indian cultural independence. Such a balance certainly remained precarious, collapsing periodically into armed conflict. Yet by and large, it created a workable relationship that lasted for three centuries.