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  • Historia de los pueblos de indios de Cusco y Apurimac by Graciela María Viñuales, Ramón Gutiérrez
  • David J. Robinson
Historia de los pueblos de indios de Cusco y Apurimac. Graciela María Viñuales, Ramón Gutiérrez. Lima: Fondo Editorial Universidad de Lima/CEDODAL, 2014, xv + 660 pp., maps, plans, photos, bibliography, index. Approx. $50.00 paper (ISBN: 978-9972-45-292-5).

This lengthy volume reflects the work of nearly four decades of investigations into the origin and evolution of the Indian villages of Cuzco and Apurimac, placing particular emphasis on the importance of this scatter of settlements in the primary sixteenth-century colonial territorial re-organization. Readers are forewarned that the authors make no reference to the parishes of Indians of the city of Cuzco and its immediate surroundings, as that will be the subject matter of a forthcoming publication. Despite this caveat, the introduction does not clearly indicate the authors’ goals. If, as the title describes, it is the history of the Indian pueblos of the former archbishopric of Cuzco, then it would have been very useful to have a map of that specific jurisdiction since the almost illegible reproductions of the eighteenth-century maps that begin the description of settlements in each of the main sections of the book are inadequate.

The authors examine ten selected partidos: Abancay, Aymares, Calca and Lares, Chumbivilcas, Cotabambos, Paruro Quispicanchis, Urubamba and Vilcabamba that contain [End Page 291] eighty-six villages, though no explanation is provided as to why these ten partidos are selected. The study is apparently based on ecclesiastical administrative divisions within the archbishopric of Cuzco dated from 1789, thus one assumes parishes, apparently defined by a resident geographer José Pablo Oncaín, though again the reader is not provided with any further biographical information. Why, therefore, the term partido, a civil administrative district, is used is never explained.

The reader is provided in each of the ten partidos a description of its principal pueblo and then other lesser pueblos (many of which are termed vice-parishes or anexos), after desultory comments on physiographic variations, climatic conditions, and economic systems characterizing the entire jurisdiction. Within each of the villages the analysis focuses on architectural aspects of primarily the churches and in some cases, house types. In some partidos the extant parish archives are rich in details of artifacts and possessions, in other cases there is an absence of information. The overall evidential base is founded on three types of data: fieldwork conducted sporadically over the period 1974 and 2008 by the Gutiérrez and Viñuales family members, accompanied from time to time by a bevy of specialists in archaeology, anthropology and art. A second data source is provided by the several published pre-1800 colonial visitas. Again, in these visitas, descriptions of some pueblos were included, in others they were excluded. A third type of evidence is found in the secondary literature, which consists of random articles of acceptable academic quality and descriptions of travelers who passed through some of the pueblos in the last two hundred years. Many high-quality photographs and recent planimetric field surveys are provided for a number of the village churches. In other cases Google Earth images demonstrate the rectilinear plan of many of the settlement centers.

The problems with such a textual structure is that after having read the descriptive text of two or three partidos, the reader can become bored because the next description will be little different than the last, since it all depends on the minor variations in source materials, and most importantly, no contrasting and comparative analyses are provided. “A Guide to the pueblos of the Archbishopric of Cuzco” might thus have been a more accurate title since the volume—though hardly portable at almost two kilos weight— could serve as a valuable visitor’s gazetteer.

In some of the maps provided, the term provincia appears, yet no mention of that administrative subdivision is mentioned in the text. Indeed one of the main defects of the book is its lack of any map of the distribution of the partidos, as well as the many sub-settlements contained within each. Though...


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