Disputing Land and Resources. Possession, Ownership, and Justice in Charcas around Royal Regularization of Land (1550-1650)

Carolina Jurado

Land ownership in Colonial Perú has been a central theme in institutional history as well as in historical and ethnohistorical approaches to Indigenous and Spanish lands since the mid-twentieth century. However, in recent decades the growth of interdisciplinary perspectives that propose to see ownership as a changing social relationship and as an important factor of social change has renewed historical research. Likewise, land ownership and possession have benefited from new interpretations of the the political, legal and governmental culture of the territories included in the Castilian monarchy during the 16th-18th centuries, which drew attention to the role of justice, flexibility, and negotiation in the rule of the different bodies or corporations that conformed the society.

Taking these approaches into account, my project focuses on the ways in which land and resources were used, owned and contested by different social actors and how they were legally and juridically conceptualized during the 16th-17th centuries. In this sense, Charcas constitutes a nodal space to explore these aspects because it is an heterogeneous area, with a dense indigenous population, seat of the main silver mining center (Potosí) of the Viceroyalty of Peru and of the Royal Court of Justice of Charcas, with important mercantile and urban nodes that claimed control over the sorrounding lands. To this end, the proyect considers the growing interest of the Castillian monarchy in regularizing land ownership from the late 16th century onwards as a starting point for exploring notions, arguments, and claims related to land control and the conflicts and changes it provoked during the first two centuries of Spanish colonial rule.

Image: Mapa de la región poblada por la etnia ava-guaraní o chiriguana, en la provincia conocida como Cordillera, 1588, Archivo de Indias (Spain)

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