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Legal Ethnohistory in Rural Bolivia: Documentary Culture and Social History in the norte de Potosi


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This article explores the intersection between documentary culture and social history through an analysis of legal archival theory and practice in rural Bolivia. The guiding theoretical premise is that legal archival research in rural Bolivia involves, to different degrees, both methodological and nonmethodological problems. The ethnohistorical researcher should identify, and distinguish between, the two in order to develop and pursue an effective project. Although fraught with uncertainties, ethnohistorical research projects involving rural legal archives can yield insights into local social history in ways not possible through other means.
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Legal Ethnohistory in Rural Bolivia: Documentary
Culture and Social History in the norte de Potosí
Mark Goodale, Emory University
Abstract. This article explores the intersection between documentary culture and
social history through an analysis of legal archival theory and practice in rural
Bolivia. The guiding theoretical premise is that legal archival research in rural
Bolivia involves, to different degrees, both methodological and nonmethodological
problems.The ethnohistorical researcher should identify, and distinguish between,
the two in order to develop and pursue an effective project. Although fraught with
uncertainties, ethnohistorical research projects involving rural legal archives can
yield insights into local social history in ways not possible through other means.
Legal archives can be especially rich sources of historical data, both legal
and nonlegal.1Particularly in rural areas, legal archives are often the only
or at least the most important—repositories of written public records. For
the ethnohistorian who is willing to look beyond the superficial legal forms
and structures, such materials provide a window into wider social, eco-
nomic, and historical movements.The nature of legal discourse itself makes
this so. Even if a court case is officially concerned with the resolution of a
dispute between two neighbors, its resolution demands that the dispute be
placed within whatever nonlegal contexts are necessary to achieve a result
that is both legally proper and calculated to prevent similar occurrences.
Claims for inheritance, for example, are historical by definition: in order
to decide who should get what, the court must construct a history of the
facts that is necessarily embedded in a wider social history.
But just because legal archives are potentiallydeep historical veins, this
does not mean that they are easy to mine. There are strict methodological
problems involved in such research—sorting vast amounts of information,
Ethnohistory : (summer )
Copyright © by the American Society for Ethnohistory.
 Mark Goodale
‘‘reading’’ social history through legal forms, paleography in the case of
older materials, and so on—and nonmethodological problems, which are
more varied and contextual and involve issues like the politics of gaining
access to restricted archives, fending off suspicions by local actors regard-
ing research activities, and making decisions about whether to share a body
of information that has been, in many cases, organized for the first time.
In Bolivia these two types of problems tend to relate to each other in
a relationship of inverse correlation. In the nation’s capital and larger re-
gional population centers, the methodological problems become more pro-
nounced as the nonmethodological problems become less important. This
is because legal archives in large urban areas are usuallyonly one type of re-
pository for public documents.There are other archives at universities, mu-
seums, and private foundations that provide outlets for the documentation
of wider, nonlegal histories; in these cases, legal archives serve more lim-
ited functions. Although this is not always true, in many cases, with larger
urban archives, it becomes more difficult to use such archives for tracing
the contours of general historical trends because the archival material is
more specialized and limited in scope, the sheer amount of archival ma-
terial increases, and the time frame in which archival material is preserved
expands. But with larger urban archives, the nonmethodological problems
become relatively less acute. Given proper credentials, the researcher can
usually gain access without undue difficulty and work without having to
face the types of questions one confronts in rural areas.2
When one moves from the cities to the provincial, sectional, and can-
tonal centers, the situation becomes reversed.3Legal archives are almost
always the only repository of public documents, and the documents them-
selves are almost always the only locally recognized public documents. For
these reasons, documents found in these archives will capture wide so-
cial histories. But with exceptions, many rural archives4in Bolivia do not
extend in time beyond the mid–nineteenth century5; even if late-colonial
documents exist, they are usually either not formally archived, or, if they
are, they are locked up in church basements, typically off limits to secu-
lar eyes.6Yet even if rural archives are broader in scope than their urban
counterparts—rendering them better sources for nonlegal historical data—
and such data fit within smaller historical frameworks, the small towns
and hamlets in which they are found are like small towns anywhere. Long-
standing feuds, complicated political intrigues, and a general (and often
justified) suspicion toward inquiring outsiders make the strict method-
ological difficulties of rural archival research seem minimal bycomparison.
This article will be an examination of this two-part dynamic from
Legal Ethnohistory in Rural Bolivia 
the vantage point of one of Bolivia’s more well-known rural areas. In the
next section, after describing the ethnohistorical setting, I will explore
the nonmethodological side of the two-part dynamic. I will then illustrate
the methodological component through the use of examples from a rural
archive. Although this essay is not the place for a full development of this
material, a selected portion will be used to demonstrate how legal archives
in rural Bolivia can bevital sources of historical data—both legal and non-
legal.7Finally, I will conclude bydrawing out the general implications of the
specific cases discussed here for future legal archival work in rural Bolivia.8
Alonso de Ibañez and Bolivia’s norte de Potosí
Alonso de Ibañez is the most western of the five provinces in the north
of Bolivia’s Potosí Department (see Figure ). The north of Potosí Depart-
ment has received critical attention from ethnohistorians and ethnogra-
phers since at least the s (see, e.g., Arze and Medinaceli; Godoy
, ; Harris a, b, ; Harris and Albó ; Izko ;
Platt,,a,; Rasnake; Rivera Cusicanqui; Zorn
). This part of Bolivia is unique for several reasons. First, the region
features large-scale ayllus, which are macro-regional kinship networks that
are pre-Hispanic in origin and that continue to serve as the basic unit of
Andean social organization.9Particularly in the north of Potosí, ayllus re-
tain many pre-Hispanic features, including ‘‘an internal organization based
on dual and vertically-organized segments, communal distribution of re-
sources, and a ‘vertical’ land tenure system which includes the use of non-
contiguous puna (highland) and valley lands’’ (Rivera Cusicanqui :
; see also Platt). The internal organization of ayllus in the north of
Potosí can be conceptualized as a set of inlaid boxes, with each territorial
and kinship unit part of an ever larger set of ethnic units, which culminate
in one grand unit, itself divided into two moieties that relate to each other
as complementary opposites (Platt: ).10
Second, the north of Potosí Department is a relatively remote and poor
region,11 and one that is located far from the departmental capital, also
called Potosí. This relative isolation has meant that the region has come to
assume symbolic importance for Bolivians as the ‘‘heart’’ of the indigenous
Bolivian Andes (Zorn ). But its isolation has also had more prosaic
effects: public goods and services from the capital are often not forthcom-
ing and people in the area have maintained a certain self-reliance, even with
the legal reforms of the past ten years that were intended, in part, to transfer
resources to outlying areas.
 Mark Goodale
Figure . Map of Department of Potosí, Bolivia (Bolivia ).
Finally, the north of Potosí Department is important because it has
wider historical significance for four main reasons: first, it was part of the
ancient Charka federation, with Sacaca (also called Sakaka), the capital of
today’s Alonso de Ibañez, its original capital (Platt n.d.; Zorn);12 sec-
ond, the region was at the heart of the Spanish imperial mining and trad-
ing network, with the mine at Potosí supplying the Spanish empire with a
significant percentage of its yearly revenues between approximately 
and  (see Cole ); third, the region played an important role in
the Túpac Amaru/Túpac Catari rebellion of – (Albó ; Langer
); and fourth, in the republican era the north of Potosí Department was
a major center of resistance to the late-nineteenth-century modernization
campaigns, some aspects of the – reforms, and, more recently, the
imposition of neoliberal policies (Godoy; Goodale ; Plattb;
Rivera Cusicanqui ).
Sacaca, with a population of about ,, is surrounded by ,
Legal Ethnohistory in Rural Bolivia 
people living in approximately  small hamlets spread out overa moun-
tainous area,13 with the hamlets as close as a thirty-minute walk from the
capital and as far as fifteen hours.14 Roadscapableofcarryingcarsor
trucks do exist in the province, but they are not common and do not reach
probably  percent of the province’s hamlets. Depending on the hamlet,
people speak either Quechua or Aymara as a first language and Spanish
(or Quechua)15 as a second, with men acquiring Spanish more often than
women. Sacaca and the province have been the focus of fairly intense non-
governmental organization () developmental efforts during the past ten
years (Goodale ; Zorn).
Sacaca is linked to the closest majorcity—Oruro—by weekly bus ser-
vice, and this connection means that the provincial capital is a place where
both private goods and ideas arrive from other parts of the country and be-
yond.16 Sacaqueños consider themselves qualitatively different from those
in the hamlets, even though Sacaca is usually considered part of an ayllu,
all Sacaqueños are bilingual in Spanish and Quechua, and many have mi-
grated to Sacaca from the hamlets within one generation and still maintain
substantial family ties outside the town.17
Legal Archives in Alonso de Ibañez
In the town of Sacaca, there are legal archives in seven places: the juzgado
de instrucción (the court; hereinafter ); the church; the offices of the two
civil registrars; the notary public’s office; the house of the one titled lawyer
in Sacaca, where a private legal archive is kept as well as records related to
agrarian reform matters and documents from the legal services center that
operated in Sacaca in the mid-s; the houses of the five defensores,non-
titled legal practitioners who are permitted by law in towns with fewer than
four titled lawyers; and, finally, the archive of the corregidor of Sacaca,18 a
local official19 who has judicial responsibilities.20 This archival material is
relatively recent in ethnohistorical terms; the earliest legal document in the
 archives, for example, is from, and both criminal and civil cases
are stored in files called expedientes only from  to the present.21
Outside of Sacaca, the archival picture is much different.22 The ayllus
in Alonzo de Ibañez havewhat are called in the region ‘‘natural authorities’
(jilanqus and segundas), but there are also other, ‘‘nonnatural’’ authority
positions: corregidores auxiliares (see note ), rural school leaders, water
mayors, and a number of different people associated with the rural peas-
ant unions (sindicatos agrarios) that have been important in the area since
the National Revolution of and the subsequent agrarian reforms (Har-
ris and Albó ; Rivera Cusicanqui ).23 The complex relationship
 Mark Goodale
between the traditional authority structure and the other political systems
is an important one; moreover, in the past ten years this relationship has
undergone tremendous change (Goodale ).24
Archives are not maintained by ayllus, but rather by the men25 in
the hamlets in their capacity as political authorities, most commonly as
corregidors or union leaders. But not all hamlets that have political authori-
ties maintain archives, and those that do maintain archives do not follow
provincewide guidelines for what must be recorded in the archives, who
should have primary responsibility for them, or for how long and in what
manner they should be preserved. Decisions regarding archives depend on
individuals and their knowledge of legal/organizational procedures and
their abilities with reading and writing. In hamlets where archives do exist,
however, they are always considered important and typically represent the
hamlet’s one source of collective documentation. The archives themselves
are in most cases called cuadernos de actas (records or proceedings), and
they contain information that reflects both political and legal processes; for
this reason, they are ‘‘politico-legal’’ sources rather than one or the other.26
These notebooks are used to record two types of events for the most part:
meetings between members of rural unions (see Figure ) and the reso-
lution of disputes between members of the hamlets. This second type of
record contains information regarding the facts of the dispute and its even-
tual resolution (see Figure ).
Before moving on to the next section, I should make one more general
point: as the structures of power outside of Sacaca undergo transformation,
so too does the practice of maintaining archives. There is a trend toward
greater documentation primarily because most s working in the region
require hamlet authorities to create lists of the number of families in the
hamlet, the distance from Sacaca, the types of crops grown, the number of
cultivated fields, and so on.To take one example, Project Concern Interna-
tional (),a-funded project staffed by ex–Peace Corps members
willing to perform short-time ‘‘emergency’’ service, provides hamlets with
food in exchange for ‘‘self-development’’ work, which usually takes the
form of road improvement. But before  will give sacks of food, they de-
mand that the political—not natural—authorities carefully document the
number of hours worked by each man and the number of men involved
in the work; oral reports will not suffice. This means that the ability to
create and maintain archives has very real effects now for people in the
hamlets. Besides increasing the amount of documentation in the hamlets,
this  pressure has also meant that more social prestige accrues now to
younger, more literate men, those who are able to comfortably interact with
outsiders in Spanish. The older men, who hold the natural ayllu authority
Legal Ethnohistory in Rural Bolivia 
Figure . Acta de regreso, Hamlet Molino T’ikanoma, Alonso de Ibañez, Potosí,
Bolivia, .
positions and who are higher in rank in the cargo system, are often simply
ignored by  workers, many of whom do not speak Quechua and do
not understand the internal political hierarchies. Politics, economics, and
documentary practice are closely interconnected in Alonso de Ibañez.
Documentary Culture in Rural Bolivia
As outlined above, part of my argument in this article is that in rural Bolivia
the nonmethodological problems associated with ethnohistorical research
are in many cases greater than the methodological ones. Although they are
difficult to get access to, archives in both Sacaca and the hamlets are fer-
tile sources of wider, nonlegal historical data. But the contextual nature
of nonmethodological problems—involving an often volatile mix of politi-
 Mark Goodale
Figure . Acta de buena conducta, Canton Sillu Sillu, Alonso de Ibañez, Potosí,
Bolivia, .
cal intrigue, intrahamlet (or town) conflict, and general suspicion—means
that ethnohistorical researchers can never know in advancewhether or not
research will be successful or even possible. This limitation obviously has
implications for planning projects and contemplating long-term ethnohis-
torical research in rural archives.
There is also an important ethical dimension that should be acknowl-
edged. Many rural towns and hamlets in Bolivia occupy tenuous positions
vis-à-vis the national and departmental capitals. Self-consciously poor and
marginalized, both socially and economically, rural communities view all
Legal Ethnohistory in Rural Bolivia 
outsiders as potential threats, even if such threats are not articulated spe-
cifically or with reference to past wrongs.The researcher who does gain ac-
cess to rural archives might sympathize with these feelings of mistrust and
even know that the future use of information gained from the archives can-
not be controlled. This dilemma is not easily resolved. Joanne Rappaport’s
solution (,) was to serve as a sort of legal adviser by giving sum-
maries of archival materials to those who asked for them; she also agreed
to train local intellectuals in both ethnohistorical and ethnographic tech-
niques. Regarding the first of these, her decision was guided in part by
the fact that locals were engaged in an ongoing political struggle with the
Colombian state (see Rappaport  for more detail). Given this, it is not
easy to see what should be done in cases in which there are no overt po-
litical struggles being waged—as in Alonso de Ibañez—or where no local
intellectuals appear interested in developing formal techniques for using
the historical material contained in community archives. Finally, because
interhamlet conflict is frequent—not to mention other types of large-scale
regional struggles—the researcher using Rappaport’s approach could very
easily become enmeshed in such a way that both research activities and
personal safety risk being compromised.
Through the Looking Glass Darkly: Intrigue, Suspicion,
and the Politics of Documentary Culture
In early October , I learned from Sacaca’s corregidor that a hamlet
called Wila-Wila had a large archive and that the authorities knew of my
interests and would be willing to talk with me about copying it.Wila-Wila
is a cantonal capital and sits at about a three-hour walk from Sacaca along
flat terrain. I also knew that Wila-Wila was a place in which I would be
doing ethnographic work anyway, so I planned a trip. I ended up stay-
ing in Wila-Wila for about two weeks and conducting the same type of
ethnographic work that I had completed in other hamlets. The hamlet itself
was a large one, with a population of about  people, and it had a full
complement of both natural and political authorities. Moreover, because it
was a hamlet that was linked to Sacaca by road, it had received the atten-
tion of s since the lates and featured potable water, solar paneled
showers, washing stations, and outhouses. During the ethnographic work I
had been shown the community archive on several occasions and was able
to study it briefly each time. It contained the usual mix of political and legal
information, but it was quite large and I asked each time to copy it in more
I was finally told that I would be able to copy the archive. When I ar-
rived at the appointed time and place, I was told that the books were being
used and to come back at the same time and place a week later. I did as I
 Mark Goodale
was told and received the same answer. This happened five times and after
two more months I finally asked the hamlet to call a meeting so that the
situation could be discussed. They agreed to do so, and the following week
I met with the entire authority structure of Wila-Wila. I was first asked to
make a formal statement about my intentions regarding the community ar-
chive. I said that I was in the province in order to learn how they resolved
their disputes in the present and in the past, and that it would greatly benefit
me to be able to read about past events. I told them that I had been talking
with many people and that the archives would help me supplement their
memories of the distant past.
Everyone seemed to be in agreement, and I was asked many questions
that indicated that people were thinking critically about both my purposes
and my methods. But then the ax fell. The corregidor titular spoke for the
group. He said that they were very sympathetic to my project—although it
seemed strange to them that a person would come all this way just to ask
questions—but they had a fundamental problem with me and therefore I
would not be able to copy the archives or do further research in the ham-
let. After one of my ethnographic sessions I had been observed on a hill
overlooking the hamlet taking photographs. This fact was quickly passed
through the hamlet. They asked me why I was taking photos. I told them
that I took photos of all the hamlets in which I do research so that I can
have images of them when I return to the United States. Everyone smiled
knowingly at me and shook their heads. My answer did not satisfy them.
Despite this, they declined when I offered to return the photographs I had
taken of the community.
Then the corregidor said that he had been in La Paz and had been in
seminars and had undergone training through the national rural unions as-
sociation. They had emphasized that rural communities were in constant
danger of having their lands confiscated through one scheme or another,
whether governmental or involving foreign agencies. The national repre-
sentatives had singled out archives in particular: because these were the
only source of community documentation, they should be protected from
outsiders as much as possible.The strangeness of my work coupled with the
photographs was more than enough to give a concrete face to the general
danger discussed in La Paz.
In other hamlets I faced similar suspicion. No matter how long I
stayed, and how many times I discussed the project and the importance
of looking into the past in order to understand the present, I was almost
always refused permission to study hamlet archives in detail. Nevertheless,
I was able to copy the full archives from six hamlets, including one cantonal
capital (Sillu-Sillu); the total amounted to  pages.27 ButineachcaseI
Legal Ethnohistory in Rural Bolivia 
Figure . Archives, juzgado de instrucción, Sacaca, Alonso de Ibañez, Potosí,
Bolivia,  (photograph by Mark Goodale).
was onlyable to study and copy the archives after a series of events that re-
sembled those in Wila-Wila, only with a different end result. For example,
in one hamlet (Molino T’ikanoma), the corregidor auxiliar, who was fa-
mous in the province for his organizational skills, his relatively high level
of formal education, his facility with Spanish, and his connections with na-
tional rural union leaders, had maintained a detailed and well-kept archive
that spanned about ten years, including the work of his predecessors, which
was very unusual.28 I was able to eventually copy it but only after seven
months of intrigues surpassing those of Wila-Wila in both their duration
and intricacy (Goodale ).29
In the town of Sacaca the situation was somewhat different, and yet
I was only given access to the  archives after eight months of constant
activities—both professional and personal—related to the court. And my
case was helped by the fact that the juez instructor,whohadthefinalre-
sponsibility for granting ethnohistorians access to the archives, was not a
native Sacaqueño but was from Tupiza in the south of Potosí Department.
Yet despite my work in the  archive, which involved studying and copy-
ing from expedientes, and the fact that I organized the archive in the pro-
cess (see Figure ), neither the court personnel nor the archives presented
 Mark Goodale
me with what could be called methodological obstacles.Yet I was only al-
lowed to enter into the source of town history because I had become a part
of the town’s political and social networks.
Public Documents and the Politics of Memory
As these narratives show, ethnohistorical research in Alonso de Ibañez does
not follow a set pattern in which the researcher prepares for certain meth-
odological difficulties and then develops strategies for overcoming them.
Indeed, when one reads ethnohistorical accounts from Latin America, these
types of nonmethodological struggles are largely omitted. I would argue
that this lack of reflexivity is problematic, not for the reasons one might
suppose—for example, the suppression of the researcher’s presence mask-
ing unequal power relations—but because the political and social factors
that more reflexive accounts would reveal enter into thesubstanceofthe
research itself. What I mean is that the political networks—and the com-
plicated, ongoing struggles for social power that define them—that make
ethnohistorical work in rural Bolivia a context-dependent and often non-
viable research option are the very same networks that decide what be-
comes documented (ethno-)history in the first place.
To make this point another way: there is a documentary culture in
rural Bolivia that is in many ways coextensive with a wider political cul-
ture, one in which local intellectuals and political figures both define what
become community ‘‘documents’and set the parameters of access to them
at the same time.30 This is an important dynamic to recognize because the
process that leads some events to be memorialized in archives, while other
events are not, is also a process in which certain collective public memo-
ries are made concrete, given tangible substance—that is, become ‘‘docu-
mentized’’—while others are shifted into other realms of memory. The sub-
set of community events that are documented obviously does not become
the only accessible type of public memory, but theyare transformed in ways
that other public memories are not.
When public events (union meetings) or private events (disputes be-
tween neighbors) become documented public memories, they are passed
through the filter of a very specific type of legal discourse that is common
in rural Bolivia. Legal theory and technique are taught in law faculties in
La Paz, Oruro, Cochabamba; lawyers from these faculties come to Sacaca
to serve as judges and private attorneys; hamlet authorities come to Sacaca
to receive training and advice regarding authorized legal procedures, par-
ticularly the recording of facts and fines; and, finally, the authorities return
to their hamlets and implement these theories and practices in the use of
archives. Even though hamlet authorities utilize these legal forms in the
Legal Ethnohistory in Rural Bolivia 
context of localized cultural logics, the forms themselves force hamlet intel-
lectuals to create documented history in a certain way. This means that the
prevalent use of certain (state-validated) legal forms over others in the cre-
ation of public documents in hamlets structures the form public memories
can take.
But there is another side to this: as the corregidor auxiliar of Molino
T’ikanoma demonstrated, the masteryof documentary forms by local intel-
lectuals has strategic advantages, and not just in terms of increasing prestige
for the archivist. State and  representatives will often only begin nego-
tiations when there is sufficient documentary support for claims regarding
hamlet population, land tenure, and boundary disputes. And, in the case
of agencies like , the ability to enact a specific type of documentary cul-
ture is a precondition and sine qua non for the receipt of benefits like food,
seeds, fertilizers, technical assistance with husbandry problems, potable
water, and so on. A reputation for proper documentary performance gives
certain people the ability to both bring in resources and make wider politi-
cal and social connections. The corregidor of Molino T’ikanoma was con-
stantly being asked to direct and document meetings between union leaders
from across the province and even beyond (see figure ). In this sense, then,
it is possible to say that in Alonso de Ibañez, present politics structure local
history, not vice versa.31
Social Histories through Legal Archives
The final part of my argument is this: Because legal archives in rural Bolivia
are usually the only documentary archives in the small towns and hamlets
where they exist, the information that makes its way into them is much
broader in scope than the information one finds in national and large re-
gional archives. I do not deny that one can use national legal archives in
Bolivia to reconstruct past social history, and indeed Tristan Platt’s great
 book (to mention just one prominent example), which was based pri-
marily on research conducted in major national and departmental (Potosí)
archives, is, among other things, proof of this.32 But in my experience work-
ing with national, departmental, provincial, and cantonal archives, it was
clear that rural legal archives at the provincial level—and, a fortiori, at
smaller levels—contained a greater degree of nonlegal social history be-
cause they were less specialized. If this is true, then we are faced with some-
thing of a dilemma: the contours of rural social history are best uncovered
through small rural archives, yet these are the same archives that are so
difficult to access, frequently unorganized, nonsystematized, physically de-
teriorating33 and that encompass short time frames.34
 Mark Goodale
Given this, the ethnohistorian or local intellectual must confront the
situation with his or her eyes wide open; there will be many times when
vital historical information is either not accessible or locked up in docu-
ments that are beyond use. Archival research thus becomes a hit-and-miss
proposition. But this does not mean that an ethnohistorical approach
should not be pursued in rural Bolivia, and in some cases such efforts are re-
warded: the researcher discovers documents that provide a uniquewindow
into local social histories that simply cannot be elicited by other means. In
the following section I will use cases from Sacaca’s  archive in order to
demonstrate how, given the right set of circumstances, social histories can
be read through legal archives.35
: Sublevación Indígena in North Potosí
Between July and October , the north of Potosí was jolted by peas-
ant uprisings that began in the province of Chayanta but eventually spread
as far south and east as the provinces of Frías, Saavedra, and Linares and
even into the Department of Chuquisaca (Harris and Albó ; Langer
; Platt b). The events of these three months were marked by vio-
lence both by peasants against landowners (hacendados) and by the army
against the peasants in their campaign to halt the uprising. The incident
that received the most attention, both nationally and internationally,36 was
the case of Julio Berdeja, a hated hacendado who had killed a peasant at the
beginning of the revolt and who had also made a request to Sucre for as-
sistance from the army. According to oral tradition corroborated by Olivia
Harris and Xavier Albó and by Platt, Berdeja was dismembered and parts
of his body were eaten by his attackers; his remains were then taken and
buried near a ritually important hill, near the border between two can-
tons (Harris and Albó : –; Platt:; see also Langer:
Yet despite these general outlines—including the important anecdote
about Berdeja—a full history of this important peasant uprising has not yet
emerged.37 Platt suggests that the uprising had its roots in peasant discon-
tent over hacienda extension in the face of the renewal of a colonial-era
agreement between peasants and the state, in which the peasants paid trib-
ute in exchange for protection of communal ayllu lands. Harris and Albó,
while recognizing the virulent opposition to both hacienda expansion and
abuses of various kinds against peasants by hacendados, place the emphasis
more on macro-level developments: first, the construction of a railway link
between Potosí and Chuquisaca, which could have driven up the value of
land over a wide area, thereby putting more pressure on ayllus to resist en-
Legal Ethnohistory in Rural Bolivia 
croachment; and, second, the possible infiltration of peasant groups by left-
ist agitators from Sucre, who, presumably, would have encouraged locals to
rise in armed revolt. But without either more ethnographic evidence, which
obviously becomes less likely as time passes, or more documentary evidence
from sources in Chayanta itself, both Platt’s and Harris and Albó’s analyses
must remain somewhat speculative, as they readily admit.
So what does this have to do with Sacaca and Alonso de Ibañez? The
newly formed province () was about  kilometers from the heart of
the area where the uprising took place, and no direct evidence exists that in-
dicates that the uprising spread to Alonso de Ibañez; given that the uprising
spread primarily south and east, this is not surprising.38 But the same so-
cial pressures that Platt and Harris and Albó point to as likely antecedents
for the Chayanta uprising were certainly present in Alonso de Ibañez at the
same time (see Platt, especially–, ,,). There would have
to be structural reasons why the same social pressures manifested them-
selves the way they did in Chayanta but not  kilometers to the northwest.
Yet any statement regarding structural causes can never really be ‘‘true,’ in
the sense of being proven by direct evidence, because such statements go
to putative underlying factors by definition.
This is not to say that such statements are not useful, but structural ex-
planations in many ways serve as much as heuristic devices for scholars and
others as they do as explanations of concrete historical events. And even if
such direct evidence did exist such that we would be able to offer similar
structural explanations for the absence of armed revolt in Alonso de Ibañez,
there are other types of questions that we would want to try and answer,
and it would be difficult to answer them with documents produced by the
army or other governmental entities. A partial list of these questions would
be: What did people in Alonso de Ibañez feel about the uprisings? How
did they react? In what ways did the social paroxysms of the neighboring
provinces reflect similar, concrete struggles between people in Alonso de
Ibañez, either within or outside of Sacaca? And, finally, what can we learn
about the more profound struggles in the province through an examination
of mundane, day-to-day activities seemingly unrelated to larger conflicts?
Because of the broader nature of their content, the legal archives in
Sacaca would be a logical place to begin to answer some of these questions.
And indeed, cases from the period immediatelyafter  are revealing. In
December of , the juzgado de partido in Uncia sent a case to Sacaca’s
juzgado de instrucción for consideration and fact-finding.39 Several members
of the mining company Moerch, Bauer & Co. had brought an original case
against their giant rival, M. Hochschild & Co., in front of Uncia’s juez in-
structor. A case by one mining company against another in the competitive
 Mark Goodale
environment of Uncia at this time is not surprising. But the case was re-
fused by Uncia’s juez instructor, and so the case was taken a level higher,
to the juez de partido, also in Uncia. This time the case was not against the
rival mining company—the facts of the underlying case are not in the -
Sacaca expediente—but against the Uncia juez instructor, Dr. Cortés Val-
divia. According to the facts recorded, M. Hochschild & Co. had carried
out a systematic campaign of intimidation against their smaller rival under
the assumption that Cortés Valdivia would not interfere because he was on
the Hochschild payroll. The official charges against him were bribery and
This case, Domke y Herrero v. Dr. Cortés Valdivia (-Sacaca expe-
diente []), sheds light on events in Sacaca at this turbulent time but
also on wider social histories. To begin with, the case was sent to Sacaca
for procedural reasons: the charge was made against Uncia’s juez instruc-
tor, and Uncia’s juez de partido (Bustillo Province) could not rule on it be-
cause the casewas outside its jurisdiction (Domke at ). Juezes instructores
in rural Bolivia serve as both fact finders and trial judges; juezes de par-
tido, however, serve as appeals courts from the juzgados de instrucción and
as courts of first resort for specialized cases like divorce and civil cases in
which the monetary amount is over a certain limit. But the juez de partido
could have sent the case to a number of different juzgados de instrucción
in north Potosí. The case could have been sent to Llallagua, Colquechaca,
San Pedro de Buena Vista, or even Ravelo. Not all of these s are equi-
distant from Uncia, but Llallagua, forexample, is much closer than Sacaca,
and the others are more or less the same distance (except Ravelo). So some-
thing else must have compelled Uncia’s juez de partido to send the case to
Sacaca and not somewhere else.
Throughout the case, reference is made to the events in Chayanta
of the previous year. Indeed, the claim against Uncia’s juez instructor by
Moerch, Bauer is framed in such a way that the uprising becomes a central
reason for seeking redress against him. Moerch, Bauer—and presumably
others, both companies and individuals—felt threatened by the disruptions
in Chayanta. The case, although involving bribery on its surface, is really
a reaction against the breakdown in traditional social structures. For ex-
ample, even though bribery and abuse of office are the technical bases for
the case, the more important—but nonlegal—basis is a general ‘‘lack of
protectionfor...peopleandproperty’thatthejudge’s supposed conduct
contributes to; moreover, the fear is that such alleged conduct will either
encourage, or not be able to deter, events like those of the previous year,
which the complaint describes as the ‘‘ominous situation...inColque-
chaca, capital of Chayanta Province’’ (Domke at ). Finally, before going
Legal Ethnohistory in Rural Bolivia 
on to describe the specifics of the case, the complaint begins by referring
to the uprisings in Chayanta as events that are ‘‘well known.’ This case
allows us to get a firsthand understanding, therefore, of how the uprisings
of had become an ‘‘ominous’’ sword of Damocles, hanging over people
in areas outside the main regions of revolt, threatening to sever the linkages
that kept relations of power in place.
But this case also allows us to say that Sacaca did not face similar up-
risings, or, at the very least, it was perceived by others in north Potosí as
relatively peaceful compared with the other provinces. Given that the case
is permeated by anxiety over the recent events in Chayanta, it is not sur-
prising that it was not sent to Colquechaca, Chayanta’s capital. But San
Pedro de Buena Vista or Llallagua would seem to have been equally good
choices, all else being equal. Indeed, this hypothesis regarding the absence
of revolt in Alonso de Ibañez is strengthened when we turn to another case
from Sacaca’s juzgado de instrucción.
In a case for simple assault brought in early , Ballesteros v. H.
Usares, E. Usares et al.(-Sacaca expediente []), the facts are pre-
sented with the type of elaborate rhetoric that is common in legal pleadings
throughout Latin America.40 But here the rhetoric is different in important
ways. Although the facts are fairly straightforward—involving the kind of
physical altercation that has occurred in Sacaca in all epochs from to
the present—the way in which the events are presented demonstrates the
extent to which the Chayanta uprising had become a central preoccu-
pation for people in Sacaca.The complaint begins: ‘‘This defective society
that is unfolding, that is supposedly our great future, finds itself constantly
being disturbed by acts of banditry that even the savage tribes would not
consent to, acts of banditry...thatdevaluethecultureofoureldersandthe
good concepts of citizenship that this town had before’’ (Ballesteros at ).
After then turning to a description of the underlying physical altercation,
the complaint returns to the overriding preoccupation, which transcends
the specific acts of violence: ‘‘You know, your Honor, that when the Nation
was in danger, and when she called on herchildren to do their duties, many
of these bastard children presented themselves in a hostile way before the
authorities and other important people of this town, those authorities...
who understand the true concept of patriotism’’ (Ballesteros at –).
These rhetorical flourishes have nothing to do with the actual facts of
the case. They must be seen, rather, as social commentary that expresses
deep unease by Sacaca’s vecinos (neighbors) over indigenous unrest in other
parts of north Potosí. Indeed, Ballesteros makes a point to identify himself
not only as ‘‘of age, married, and a resident of this capital,’’ which are the
usual recitations required by law, but also as a ‘‘landowner,’’ which is not
 Mark Goodale
often seen in expedientes like this. The implication is clear: the attack on
Ballesteros was not a simple physical attack but was something much more,
an act that was symbolic even to him. The social order in which the small
vecino elite exercised control over the large ayllu populations in a number
of ways, particularly in terms of ayllu-town interactions, found itself under
a dark cloud. Vecinos in Sacaca wondered whether or not the same type
of convulsions that had rocked Chayanta might not also arise in Alonso
de Ibañez. And the quote above does tantalizingly allude to resistance in
Sacaca to the formation of some type of militia, perhaps to be sent to Cha-
yanta in order to aid the hacendados. In any event, a legal document like
this would typically be the only place in which such social commentary by
private individuals would be officially recorded, the only place in which
private reflections on social history like this could be ‘‘documentized’’ and
thereby transformed into authorized public memory.
The arguments in this article can be divided thematically into three groups:
those related to the practice of legal ethnohistory in rural Bolivia; those
related to documentary culture; and, finally, those arguments concerning
the relation between legal archives and social history. I will summarize the
main points from each of these three groups in turn.
First, legal ethnohistorical work in Bolivia involves both methodologi-
cal and nonmethodological problems. Methodological problems are those
that go to the very nature of research itself, like sorting through vari-
ous types of sources and information, reading documents written in older
idioms, and attempting to read through legal documents in order to gain
a window into broader social processes. Nonmethodological problems are
those that are embedded in the wider social context in which ethnohis-
torical work is done. Examples of such problems would be the politics of
gaining access to restricted archives, fending off suspicions by local actors
regarding research activities, and making decisions about whether to share
a body of information that has been, in many cases, organized for the first
time. I have suggested that these methodological and nonmethodological
problems stand in a relationship of inverse correlation with the size of the
legal archive and its location. Ethnohistorical research in legal archives in
the national and regional centers will involve greater methodological diffi-
culties but comparatively fewer nonmethodological ones. Research in pro-
vincial, cantonal, and, especially, hamlet or union archives will require the
ethnohistorian to face a greater number of nonmethodological obstacles
but comparatively few methodological ones. Indeed, the nonmethodologi-
Legal Ethnohistory in Rural Bolivia 
cal difficulties associated with ethnohistorical research in cantonal and
hamlet-union archives in rural Bolivia can often be insurmountable such
that ethnohistorical work at those levels becomes a nonviable option.
Second, I have suggested that a documentary culture in rural Bolivia
exists in which local intellectuals both decide what social events become
transformed—what I have called ‘‘documentized’’—into authorized public
memory and set parameters for access to this public memory at the same
time. I should point out that it is not onlyoutsiders who are restricted from
using cantonal and hamlet archives; locals who are not currently authori-
ties are also restricted from using archives, although of course in different
ways than nonlocals.
Third, using cases from a juzgado de instrucción in the north of Potosí
Department, I have shown how legal archives are often either the best,
or only, sources for discovering past social history. Particularly in ham-
lets, where cuadernos de actas will almost certainly be the only commu-
nity archives, politico-legal documents will also contain a wide range of
social facts; indeed, as the cases from Sacaca’s  demonstrate, legal docu-
ments are often a testamentary record—filtered, of course, through legal
discourse—of the prevailing social preoccupations of the past. Given the
fact that social commentary is usually tangential to the underlying pur-
poses of a legal document, a researcher can read the social commentary
embedded in case files with a less jaundiced eye than in the case of, for
example, a political tract of the same period.
Let me end on a more general point. Ethnohistorians using legal ar-
chives in rural Bolivia must always keep two contexts in mind: first, the
wider social contexts in which the social facts documented in legal archives
were originally rooted; and second, the political contexts both of the past—
in which the archives themselves were created—and the present, that is, the
current political context through which the ethnohistorian must navigate.
This article is based on fifteen months of ethnohistorical and ethnographic research
in Bolivia completed in . The research would not have been possible without
the generous support from the following: the National Science Foundation (#
), the Organization of American States (F), the  Title VI Foreign
Languages and Area Studies Program (,–), the Tinker/Nave Foundation
through a grant to the Latin American and Iberian Studies Program at the Univer-
sity of Wisconsin–Madison, the David L. Boren Graduate Fellowship Program, and
the Institute for Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin Law School. The au-
thor also wishes to acknowledge the insightful comments of Neil Whitehead and
three anonymous reviewers, all of which helped greatly improve this article.
 Mark Goodale
Legal archives are repositories of public documents that were originally cre-
ated in the course of legal processes, broadly defined. This definition is general
enough to encompass public documents associated with folk orcustomary legal
processes as well as the more obvious legal processes of formal or state legal sys-
tems. Although it might seem obvious, it is worth noting that not all archives are
legal archives; many of the most important archives in Latin America and else-
where are commercial, political, historical, or ecclesiastical in nature. Never-
theless, it is true that many of these nonlegal archives—again, in Latin America
and elsewhere—do contain legal documents, but these legal documents are in
each case peripheral to the archives’ principle nonlegal functions.
I do not mean to present the distinction I draw here between urban and rural ar-
chives as a stark dichotomy but rather as a common pattern in archival culture
and practice in Bolivia.
Bolivia’s jurisdictional structure is based on the French model.
Unless otherwise indicated, rural archive is used to refer to repositories of pub-
lic documents found outside provincial centers in Bolivia. These archives are
found in hamlets and can be associated with ayllus, rural peasant unions, and
hamlet political and legal entities.
Even though this article is concerned with rural archives in Bolivia, I should
note that in other parts of the Andes many rural communities maintain archives
that contain public documents—either original or notarized copies—that date
to the sixteenth century.
It is also common that documents from the colonial period will have been
moved at some point from provincial capitals to national or departmental ar-
This article is part of a larger project, a much fuller discussion of which can be
found in Goodale .
I should note that the conclusions I reach in this article are not meant to apply
directly to other types of archives that are important to Latin American histo-
rians, in particular to local and national church archives—which are in many
respects unique as archives—and the important international archives like the
Archivo General de Indias (hereafter referred to as ) in Spain.
Although this is a matter of some dispute, it is clear that ayllus originated as
pre-Hispanic units of social organization but then underwent a transformation
as a result of the Spanish Conquest. For a good review of this debate and the
literature on ayllus in Bolivia, see Zorn : –, fn.  and fn. .
 The subject of ayllus in Alonso de Ibañez, as elsewhere in Bolivia, is a com-
plicated one. For example, in Alonso de Ibañez the traditional ayllu—formerly
known as Ayllu Sakaka—has fragmented at the maximal level, leaving ten or
eleven of the middle levels, depending on how they are counted. This means,
among other things, that certain rituals associated with the maximal ayllu’s two
moieties have disappeared because duality as an ordering principle does not
exist anymore at the largest scale in the province. See Goodale .
 According to Ricardo Godoy (: ) and others (e.g., Grieshaber ;
Langer), this was not always the case. Godoyargues that peasants in many
parts of north Potosí were relatively well-off through the trade in wheat and
barley until well into the nineteenth century, when cheaper imports from Chile
and the United States drove them out of business.
 Several scholars have been analyzing a well-known ‘‘memorial’’ that was sent to
Legal Ethnohistory in Rural Bolivia 
Spain in ( Justicia ) and that was heard in Madrid between and
. This document contains a claim by ‘‘lords and Indians’’ of Sacaca against
the relatives of Don Alonso de Montemayor, who was the area’s encomendero,
for various acts of extortion and theft (Platt n.d.). According to Platt, this ma-
terial, which was being edited by Thérèse Bouysse-Cassayne, Olivia Harris,
Tristan Platt, and the late Thierry Saignes, is to be published by the Centro de
Información para el Desarrollo () in La Paz under the title Qaraqara-Charka:
Transformaciones históricas de una confederación Aymara (–).
 I say ‘‘approximately’’ because surveying and demographic information for this
part of Bolivia are still unreliable; moreover, the  census was being pre-
pared during–, and its results were not available at the time of writing.
The figures here are taken from the National Census (Bolivia).
 In Alonso de Ibañez distance is commonly measured by leguas (leagues), a
league being understood as the distance that a normal adult can walk in one
hour. This distance works out to about  miles depending on the season—rainy
or not—and the direction one is walking—along river valleys or over them. If
one walks for more than fifteen hours in any direction, one will pass over into
either another province in the same department (Potosí) or into anotherdepart-
 In hamlets in which Aymara is the first language, Quechua will usually be the
second language—for men, at least—followed by Spanish. Quechua is the lan-
guage of choice for interhamlet markets and exchanges. But in hamlets in which
Quechua is the first language, Aymara will not be acquired as a second lan-
guage because it occupies a relatively lower level of social prestige vis-à-vis both
Quechua and Spanish.
 Even though Oruro is the closest major city to Sacaca, it is not a source of public
goods, services, and other projects because it is the capital of another depart-
ment, Oruro. The journey to Potosí is made from time to time by Sacaca’s public
officials, but it is a long one and avoided whenever possible, requiring one to
travel first to Oruro (five to seven hours), then to Potosí (seven to nine hours).
 Sacaqueños call themselves ‘‘vecinos’’ (literally, ‘‘neighbors’’) in contrast to the
‘‘runa’’ (‘‘man’’ or ‘‘people’’ in Quechua) who live in the hamlets.
 Each canton in the province should ideally have a corregidor, who reports di-
rectly to the provincial subprefect. Corregidors themselves, who are technically
corregidores titulares (titled corregidors), will also have a number of corregi-
dores auxiliares (auxiliary corregidors) working under them. In practice, the
situation is more complicated for a number of reasons. One major problem is
the fact of ‘‘cantonization,’’ the process through which communities try and
become officially recognized cantons. During –, the official number of
cantons in the province was difficult to establish at any one time; the number
changed depending on whom one was asking.
 The corregidor originally was a colonial official with much power and influ-
ence and was the principal representative of the Spanish Crown throughout
the region. Today, corregidors in rural Bolivia have two major functions. First,
they serve as the most important intermediary between hamlet authorities and
provincial subprefects. And second, at least in some parts of rural Bolivia—
especially in the north of Potosí Department—the corregidor is the manager of
local ayllus.What this means is that ayllu authorities are responsible for coming
to the place the corregidor resides—often the provincial capital—on a regular
 Mark Goodale
basis and registering their names in a book that the corregidor maintains. The
corregidor, in turn, is responsible for receiving the ayllu authorities and record-
ing their presence by name of ayllu, name of hamlet, and title of position. The
corregidor also must document when positions change hands, which happens,
depending on the ayllu and region, either once a year or once every two years,
typically in February.
 I do not include in this list the archives of either the alcaldia (mayor’s office)
or the subprefect because the documents they contain are arguably political in
nature.There are some aspects of town political process that merge into admin-
istrative law. See below for how hamlet archives are best described as ‘‘politico-
 For this ethnohistorical work in Sacaca’s , two types of sampling were used:
selective sampling—copying every murder case, for example—and a version of
random sampling, in which a predetermined numberof criminal and civil cases
were selected for copying in each year without regard to their content, physical
condition, or size.
 Research was conducted in the following  out of the approximately 
hamlets in Alonso de Ibañez: Alta T’ikanoma, Chungara, Churuta, Enguyo,
Fundición, Huamani, Iturata, Jank’arachi, Janq’o-Jake, Janta Palka, Jist’añani,
Kachari, Kamacachi, Kamani Chico, Karcoma, Kasi-Kasi, Kea Kea, Kochhini,
Kochipampa, Kuluma, Layupampa, Leque, Leuquene, Llapa-Llapa, Lok’euta,
Mallkuqota, Molino T’ikanoma, Ñuñumayani, Ovejeria, Palca T’ikanoma,
Sak’ani, Wila-Wila, Tarawachapi, Totoroqo, Ventilla, Vitora, Walqhere,
Waraya, Wilapampa, Wila-Wila.
 For a detailed discussion of the complexity of rural authority structures from
another part of Bolivia, see Antero Klemola’s () important recent disserta-
 Through the ‘‘fiesta cargo’’ system most men in hamlets who are not mentally
ill or obviously incompetent in other ways—engaging in excessive and regu-
lar drunkenness, for example—are required by custom to rotate through both
the natural and state-acknowledged political authority positions for their entire
adult lives, the various positions being located within a recognized hierarchy
of importance and prestige. See Rasnake  for a description of this pro-
cess from another part of Potosí Department.This intricate system of authority
positions has undergone immense change in Alonso de Ibañez in the past ten
years for reasons that include national legislation that has created new authority
structures in rural areas; the advent of s that typically interact with the ‘‘po-
litical’’ as opposed to the ‘‘natural’’ authorities, thereby inverting the traditional
scale of importance; and a general decline in ayllu structural cohesion.
 I use ‘‘men’’ here deliberately; even though women are not prohibited by cus-
tom or state law from serving in cargo positions, it almost never happens. In
fifteen months (during and–) I only found onewoman serving as an
authority, a segunda from the hamlet of Enguyo. She was an older woman who
had never married and so was living in the hamlet of her birth family (the ham-
lets are patrilocal).The normal postmarital residence pattern obviously means
that married women are less likely to exert political influence in the hamlets of
their husbands’ families.
 Frank Salomon (: ) uses this particularly apt term to refer to legal pro-
cesses involving indigenous Andeans and government officials during the colo-
nial era.
Legal Ethnohistory in Rural Bolivia 
 These hamlet archives were copied as part of a larger project—partlycompleted
in  and partlyongoing—that is attempting to trace the contours of intellec-
tual production in Alonso de Ibañez by focusing on legal archives at both the
hamlet and provincial levels (see Goodale ).
 In most cases, even with Sacaca’s corregidor, a new archive is started when a
new official begins his cargo. Old notebooks are either discarded or preserved
according to individual preference, but in Alonso de Ibañez I was not able to
discover a system or set of rules that required a hamlet to maintain archives in
 Tom Abercrombie was kind enough to share with me his experiences in con-
ducting archival research in the Department of Oruro (Abercrombie, personal
communication, March ). Although our research differed in the details,
the general outline of archival research in rural Bolivia that I develop here was
similar for both of us.
 I use ‘‘intellectual’’ here not in its colloquial meaning—e.g., ‘‘one who has
attained a high degree of formal knowledge’’—but in its neo-Gramscian ap-
plication (especially as developed by Steve Feierman [() ‘‘peasant intel-
lectuals’’]). Florencia Mallon (: –) devotes an entire chapter to a
discussion of the role of ‘‘local intellectuals’’ in another rural Latin American
context that is quite similar to my use of ‘‘intellectual’’ both here and in Good-
ale , in which I describe the impact of what I call ‘‘rural-legal intellectuals’
in Alonso de Ibañez. For a discussion of how local legal intellectuals often serve
essentially ideological functions, see Goodale.
 Or maybe it is better to say ‘‘as well as vice versa.’ Even though Marc Bloch
(: ) observed that a historian must of course try and ‘‘understand the
present by the past,’’ he was also careful to point out that one must also try and
‘‘understand the past by the present’’: ‘‘[the] solidarity of the ages is so effective
that the lines of connection work both ways. Misunderstanding the present is
the inevitable consequence of ignorance of the past. But a man may wear himself
out just as fruitlessly in seeking to understand the past, if he is totally ignorant
of the present.
 Much fine work has been done in recent years by Bolivianist historians and
ethnohistorians, including Larson, which is a revised edition of her impor-
tant study. Brooke Larson’s final chapter of the revised edition contains an
up-to-date and thorough essay on Bolivian historiography. Other important re-
cent works include Abercrombiea, b; Gordillo; Gotkowitz;
and Thomson .
 This is a point that is not discussed enough: the simple fact that archives in rural
Bolivia are subject to a variety of conditions that threaten their existence. In
Sacaca, for example, the most well-preserved archives are at the . But even
there, many expedientes before about  have suffered damage from mois-
ture such that they are unreadable. In addition, between  and  there
are someyears that have simplydisappeared, meaning that no cases exist. Some
files in years close to the ‘‘vanished’’ years show fire damage, and so it is pos-
sible that fire destroyed them.The large departmental and national archives are,
by contrast, well preserved by any standards; indeed, the National Archive of
Bolivia in Sucre is in many ways a model for archival techniques.
 Although it is outside the scope of this article, considering the implications of
this difference in archival preservation between the countryside and the cities
for Bolivian history in general would be interesting. What does it mean, for
 Mark Goodale
example, to say that documents are disappearing from rural archives all over
Bolivia but are being preserved in departmental and national centers? Does this
mean that localized rural history is likewise disappearing in some sense? And
what are the future implications when documents in rural archives deteriorate
and are no longer usable by the people for whom they are immediately relevant,
while the only other documents that might be useful—revisitas in the National
Archives, for example—are so far away and inaccessible as to be practically
nonexistent to the rural people whose lives—past and present—they document?
 In considering the issue of the limits of documentary sources, I have bene-
fited from the important work of other Andeanist scholars, in particular Larson
; Mallon ; Powers ; Salomon ; and Stern  and .
Mallon’s (,) recent writings on the intersection between historical re-
search and marginalized discourse in Latin America have also proven useful,
in particular her examination of the role of local intellectuals, which informs
much of the observations in this article (see note ). Finally, I should mention
the important work on indigenous record-keeping that has been done in the
Mesoamerican context, much of which is also relevant to some of the issues
raised by this article; see, e.g., Kellogg and Restall and Lockhart .
 The New York Times, for example, gave the uprising seven consecutive days of
front-page coverage. The  August  paper carried a story about certain
‘‘Inca tribes’’ in Bolivia that were in the process of ‘‘murdering whites, burning
haciendas, and committing themselves to the destruction of every vestige of the
white man’s civilization’’ (Harris and Albó: ).
 Both Platt and Harris and Albó indicate that Abraham Lupa was, as of the mid-
s, preparing a detailed analysis of the events of the uprising, including,
supposedly, its causes and effects (Harris and Albó:, fn. ; Platt:
). Erick Langer’s () important article focuses on the ritualistic aspects
of the uprising.
 In fact, there is circumstantial evidence that Sacaca was relatively calm (see fur-
ther on in this article).
 Domke y Herrero v. Dr. Cortés Valdivia (-Sacaca expediente []).
 A research area that deserves greater attention could be described as the ‘‘poet-
ics of legal rhetoric’’ in rural Bolivia.
Abercrombie, Thomas
a Pathways of Memory and Power: Ethnography and History among an
Andean People. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
b Tributes to Bad Conscience: Charity, Restitution, and Inheritance in
Cacique and Encomendero Testaments of Sixteenth-Century Charcas.
In Dead Giveaways: Indigenous Testaments of Colonial Mesoamerica
and the Andes. Susan Kellogg and Matthew Restall, eds. Pp. –.
Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.
Albó, Xavier
 From MNRistas to Kataristas to Katari. In Resistance, Rebellion, and
Consciousness in the Andean World: Eighteenth to Twentieth Cen-
turies. Steve Stern, ed. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
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Arze, Silvia, and Ximena Medinaceli
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Bloch, Marc
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 Map of Department of Potosí. Potosí, Bolivia: Instituto Nacional de
Cole, Jeffrey
 The Potosí Mita, –: Compulsory Indian Labor in the Andes.
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Feierman, Steven
 Peasant Intellectuals: Anthropology and History in Tanzania. Madison:
University of Wisconsin Press.
Godoy, Ricardo
 From Indian to Miner and Back Again: Small-Scale Mining in the Juku-
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 Mining and Agriculture in Highland Bolivia: Ecology, History, and
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 A Complex Legal Universe in Motion: Rights, Obligations, and Rural-
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Gotkowitz, Laura
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. La Paz: Centro de Investigación y Promoción del Campesinado
 Mark Goodale
Izko, Xavier
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Kellogg, Susan, and Matthew Restall, eds.
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Despite ongoing efforts to document the use of khipus (Andean knotted-string recording devices) in the decades following the Spanish conquest, the scenes in which former Inka-era khipukamayuqs (cord keepers) rendered their cords for colonial observers remain unclear. This study confronts this historical blind spot, endeavouring to reconstruct early colonial khipu ‘readings’ by way of a heretofore unexplored occurrence: scribal modifications entered in transcriptions of khipu-based testimonies before the colonial high courts. Following an overview of evidentiary cord readings and previous treatments of scribal emendations, the prevalence of visible markings is assessed in the largest compilation of khipu transcriptions. Legal proceedings between 1558–1568 before the Audiencias of Lima and La Plata form two case studies. The documents are representative of other khipu transcriptions in lacking an exhaustive description of their own preparation; as such, the possibility that one or more is a secondary copy cannot be entirely excluded. Scribal modifications in three testimonies from the proceedings are deployed as heuristic devices to probe the presentation of ethnocategories and chronology by the cord keepers within this fraught documentary space. Despite the possibility of unattested documentary interference, the case studies attest to slippages in khipu reading that, in their sum, enable the proposal of punctuated narrative cadence, reversions to verbal shorthand, and relational discourse as recurring qualities of early colonial khipu readings. It is argued that this interpretive exercise enables closer study of the relationship between khipus and their written colonial references, serving other inquiries into ‘lost’ historical scenes.
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The anthropological studies on memory in contexts of cultural diversity and social inequality are distributed in diverse fields of debate: memory as an inherited tradition, memory as a historical source and memory as a strategic use of the past. This work proposes to update the state-of-the art from these different perspectives, aiming to rethink the limits, achievements and constitutive tensions in our understanding on the remembering and forgetting processes.
Plunder examines the dark side of the Rule of Law and explores how it has been used as a powerful political weapon by Western countries in order to legitimize plunder - the practice of violent extraction by stronger political actors victimizing weaker ones. Challenges traditionally held beliefs in the sanctity of the Rule of Law by exposing its dark side. Examines the Rule of Law's relationship with 'plunder' - the practice of violent extraction by stronger political actors victimizing weaker ones - in the service of Western cultural and economic domination. Provides global examples of plunder: of oil in Iraq; of ideas in the form of Western patents and intellectual property rights imposed on weaker peoples; and of liberty in the United States. Dares to ask the paradoxical question - is the Rule of Law itself illegal?
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This article addresses the constitutionalization of indigenous rights through the analysis of a document recounting the dissemination of said rights in Ecuador's Amazonian communities. The article explores the new verbal and written forms produced by the indigenous organizations in their workshops and from there seeks to add an expressive dimension to the theoretical frame of legal pluralism. The analysis of this new kind of ethnographical materials reveals a strong tension going through both local and state forms of regulation, and seems to express their mutual incapacities in view of the fast transnationalization of the frameworks of power.
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Through the analysis of two rituals that occurred during the 1927 Indian rebellion in southern Bolivia, it is possible to discern the motivations and worldviews of the Andean peasantry. One ritual, in which the rebels imitated a trial to legitimate their takeover of a number of estates, shows how they were linked to other Indian allies; it also illustrates their efforts to maintain ties with the national government. The second ritual, an act of cannibalism performed on a landowner and the sacrifice of his bones to a mountain god, exhibits a combination of goals, including the assertion of ethnic identity and land rights. The rituals expose the contradictory motives behind the rebellion and show the Indians' conceptions of the larger polity, which, though based on certain political and social realities, made government repression inevitable.
In describing the impact of haciendas on Indian communities of Meso-America and Andean America, historians generally have emphasized the hacendado's unrelenting appropriation of land and labor from native settlements, which were forced constantly to retreat in the face of this pressure. This view can be represented by James Lockhart's description of hacienda expansion. He saw the great estate as an ‘essentially unitary social institution [that] maintained constant its function as intermediary between growing Spanish towns and receding Indian villages. It evolved along two simple lines — constant rise in legal ownership of land and change in the balance of the labor force, as permanent workers increased and temporary workers decreased. ¹ As the hacienda expanded outward from the cities, said Lockhart, it gradually engaged the Indians in acculturative processes that made the great estate ‘the most powerful instrument of hispanization in Spanish-American culture’.
Imagenes y presagios: El escudo de los Ayaviri, Mallkus de Charcas La Paz: Hisbol. Bloch, Marc  The Historian's Craft. New York: Vintage. Bolivia  National Census
  • Silvia Arze
  • Ximena Medinaceli
Arze, Silvia, and Ximena Medinaceli  Imagenes y presagios: El escudo de los Ayaviri, Mallkus de Charcas. La Paz: Hisbol. Bloch, Marc  The Historian's Craft. New York: Vintage. Bolivia  National Census. Potosí, Bolivia: Instituto Nacional de Estadística.  Map of Department of Potosí. Potosí, Bolivia: Instituto Nacional de Estadística.
 Dead Giveaways: Indigenous Testaments of Colonial Mesoamerica and the Andes Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. Klemola, Antero  The Reproduction of Community through Communal Practices in Kila
  • Susan Kellogg
  • Matthew Restall
Kellogg, Susan, and Matthew Restall, eds.  Dead Giveaways: Indigenous Testaments of Colonial Mesoamerica and the Andes. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. Klemola, Antero  The Reproduction of Community through Communal Practices in Kila, Kila, Bolivia. Ph.D. diss., University of Liverpool.
Albó  Monteras y guardatojos: Campesinos y mineros en el norte de Potosí en 
  • Olivia Harris
Harris, Olivia, and Xavier Albó  Monteras y guardatojos: Campesinos y mineros en el norte de Potosí en . La Paz: Centro de Investigación y Promoción del Campesinado ().