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Trading Roles: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Urban Economy in Colonial Potosi (Latin America Otherwise)by Jane E. Mangan
Synopses & Reviews
Located in the heart of the Andes, Potosandiacute; was arguably the most important urban center in the Western Hemisphere during the colonial era. It was internationally famous for its abundant silver mines and regionally infamous for its labor draft. Set in this context of opulence and oppression associated with the silver trade, Trading Roles emphasizes daily life in the cityandrsquo;s streets, markets, and taverns. As Jane E. Mangan shows, food and drink transactions emerged as the most common site of interaction for Potosinos of different ethnic and class backgrounds. Within two decades of Potosandiacute;andrsquo;s founding in the 1540s, the majority of the cityandrsquo;s inhabitants no longer produced food or alcohol for themselves; they purchased these items. Mangan presents a vibrant social history of colonial Potosandiacute; through an investigation of everyday commerce during the cityandrsquo;s economic heyday, between the discovery of silver in 1545 and the waning of production in the late seventeenth century.
Drawing on wills and dowries, judicial cases, town council records, and royal decrees, Mangan brings alive the bustle of trade in Potosandiacute;. She examines quotidian economic transactions in light of social custom, ethnicity, and gender, illuminating negotiations over vendor locations, kinship ties that sustained urban trade through the course of silver booms and busts, and credit practices that developed to mitigate the pressures of the market economy. Mangan argues that trade exchanges functioned as sites to negotiate identities within this colonial multiethnic society. Throughout the study, she demonstrates how women and indigenous peoples played essential roles in Potosandiacute;andrsquo;s economy through the commercial transactions she describes so vividly.
A social history of trade in a colonial city in Peru, arguing that markets, stores, and taverns were important sites of cultural creation and showing how the gender and ethnic identities of participants affected how they adapted to the market economy.
About the Author
“Trading Roles is a pioneering study. The mass of research Jane E. Mangan has put into the work is truly amazing. She makes the lives of the vast majority of the population of Potosí come alive.”—Erick D. Langer, author of Economic Change and Rural Resistance in Southern Bolivia, 1880-1930
“Trading Roles is an unusually lively, detailed account of ‘the underdogs’ of a colonial Spanish American city. It draws attention not only to relatively invisible historical actors but to the rich texture of the deals and socially patterned expectations that brought them together.”—Kathryn Burns, author of Colonial Habits: Convents and the Spiritual Economy of Cuzco, Peru
What Our Readers Are Saying
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