El 'bien público' del trabajo compulsivo en entredicho: contrapuntos de voces y acciones en Potosí (siglos XVII-XVIII): The 'public good' of coerced work in question: counterpoints of voices and actions in Potosí (XVII-XVIII centuries)

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How to understand the importance the independent and empowered workers as the k'ajchas and trapicheros of the Potosí's mines with the personal service of the mitayos instituted in the name of the public good and described as "horror" at the end of the 17th century and as "temporary slavery" at the end of the 18th century? The aim, therefore, is to contribute to think in what we call "voices" from above and "actions" from below. The central argument is that the mita was questioned from the high colonial spheres, which we believe delegitimized it, but it was also cracked by the same workers. The mitayos not only dodged and deserted from the mita, but they also searched on how to improve their wages becoming free workers or mingas but also k'ajchas or independent workers. Therefore, we must think about different work situations rather than different work situations types of workers. This dynamic means that between resistance as the deployment of everyday infra-political weapons (James Scott), the pacts of reciprocity of rights and obligations (Tristan Platt) or the open rebellions, one should think also in the search of a better involvement of workers in the new economy.
Original languageSpanish
Title of host publicationTrabajos y Trabajadores en América Latina (Siglos XVI-XXI)
Place of PublicationLa Paz
PublisherCIS. Centro de Investigaciones Sociales. La Paz
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)978-99974-77-84-2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • labour history
  • unfree labour
  • agency
  • workers
  • small and artisanale mining

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