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Vintage Moquegua

Vintage Moquegua
History, Wine, and Archaeology on a Colonial Peruvian Periphery

This fascinating, deeply human narrative of colonialism and capitalism captures the history of a New World winery in the desert mountains of southern Peru.

Series: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowment in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture

January 2011
This is a print-on-demand title. Expedited shipping is not available.
365 pages | 6 x 9 | 10 maps, 16 b&w photos, 10 line drawings, 5 charts, 22 tables |

The microhistory of the wine industry in colonial Moquegua, Peru, during the colonial period stretches from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, yielding a wealth of information about a broad range of fields, including early modern industry and labor, viniculture practices, the cultural symbolism of alcohol consumption, and the social history of an indigenous population. Uniting these perspectives, Vintage Moquegua draws on a trove of field research from more than 130 wineries in the Moquegua Valley.

As Prudence Rice walked the remnants of wine haciendas and interviewed Peruvians about preservation, she saw that numerous colonial structures were being razed for development, making her documentary work all the more crucial. Lying far from imperial centers in pre-Hispanic and colonial times, the area was a nearly forgotten administrative periphery on an agricultural frontier. Spain was unable to supply the Peruvian viceroyalty with sufficient wine for religious and secular purposes, leading colonists to import and plant grapevines. The viniculture that flourished produced millions of liters, most of it distilled into pisco brandy. Summarizing archaeological data and interpreting it through a variety of frameworks, Rice has created a three-hundred-year story that speaks to a lost world and its inhabitants.


Gourmand World Cook Book Awards Best Drink History Shortlist

  • List of Illustrations
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Introduction: Contexts and Contextualizing
  • Part I. Background and Deep Context
    • 2. Theory: Peripheries, Frontiers, Actors, and Innovations
    • 3. Core-State: Spain, Wine, and the Birth of Empire
    • 4. Periphery: Moquegua, Its Physical Environment, and Indigenous Peoples
  • Part II. Actors and Institutions: Moquegua on the Periphery of Empire
    • 5. Following the Actors, Act 1: Discovery and Exploration
    • 6. Following the Actors, Act 2: Encomiendas, Encomenderos, and Founders
    • 7. Colonial Institutions: Peripheral Transformations and Contested Identities
  • Part III. Wine: The Commodity
    • 8. Commerce: Wine in an Imperial Colonial Economy
    • 9. Production: Growing Grapes and Making Wine in Moquegua
    • 10. Liquid Assets: A Historical Overview of Moquegua’s Wine Economy
  • Part IV. Material Culture: Objects as Actors and Agents
    • 11. Rural Landscape and Built Environment
    • 12. Ceramics: Industrial and Domestic
    • 13. The Structures of Everyday Life: Nonceramic Artifacts and Materials
  • Part V. Concluding Synthesis: On the Frontier of a Periphery of an Empire
    • 14. Dichotomies versus Mosaics
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

Prudence M. Rice is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, and Director of the Office of Research Development and Administration at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She has written or edited ten previous books, including Maya Calendar Origins: Monuments, Mythistory, and the Materialization of Time, and she has published more than 150 articles, chapters, and reviews


The Moquegua Bodegas Project was perhaps the first anthropologically based multi- and interdisciplinary historical and industrial archaeology project in the Andes—or at least the first to systematically investigate the establishment of rural colonial settlements and agro-industry—and so it is appropriate to briefly discuss its genesis. In the early 1980s, Michael Moseley, a new colleague at the University of Florida, was initiating a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary project in the Department of Moquegua in far southern Peru and invited me to participate. At that point, my Maya work in Guatemala was becoming increasingly tenuous because of that country’s civil war, and a move to the Andes sounded interesting. Besides, as Mike told me, knowing of my interest in pottery, “there are lots of big jars.”

So I briefly visited him in the field in 1983. After driving up and down the Moquegua valley for a day or two I hazarded an optimistic opinion that in a summer field season of three to four weeks a graduate student and I should be able to record basic observations on the forty-some winery hacienda sites (bodegas) that I estimated to be in the valley. Little did I realize that I would eventually be dealing with 130 of these sites, and they would occupy my thoughts for much of the next quarter-century.

During the time I spent in Moquegua in the following years, traipsing through abandoned adobe ruins and talking to citizens, I devoted considerable effort to promoting cultural conservation. I proclaimed the significance of these structures to Moquegua’s history to anyone who would suffer my Spanglish; I championed the goal of preserving them and protecting them from further damage. Most of the time the citizens seemed to agree . . . although they were somewhat bemused that it was a norteamericana who was so concerned about their corner of the world. But while outwardly voicing sympathy with preservation they were simultaneously—almost gleefully—destroying sites. I remember visiting one bodega site and chatting with the owner, an articulate middle-aged woman, who concurred emphatically with my points about preservation . . . and then cheerily informed me that she was dismantling the stone-lined grape-crushing tank on her property to build a garage. At another site, our shovel-testing took place even while adobes from the colonial structure were being cannibalized for reuse in a new building under construction.

As I wrote grant proposals to support this field project, and then began writing up the findings, I was—and still am—mystified by the dearth of reference to wine and brandy in books about colonial Peru and its political economy (cf. Brown 1986; Cushner 1980; Davies 1984). In book after book I consulted, wine and viticulture were not even entries in the index, although interesting data could occasionally be found in footnotes. Consequently, I saw a need to synthesize the background to the Peruvian wine industry, discussing the role of wine in pre-imperial Spain as well as its Roman roots, and especially its technology.

I set about writing up the archaeological data from the project in the early 1990s . . . and then became distracted by fieldwork in Guatemala through the next fifteen years or so . . . and thus only in 2009, with the benefit of a year-long 50 percent administrative research leave generously granted by SIUC, was I able to get back to these data. And I discovered that there has been a virtual explosion of exciting and creative theoretical approaches to the archaeology of capitalism, a growing body of work by wine historians in the Southern Cone, and a burgeoning field of historical archaeology throughout South America. Also since the 1980s, a considerable literature corpus has developed on colonialism and postcolonialism.

The present narrative is very much a “reconstructed logic” of the fieldwork that begat it. But the study of viticulture and wine- and brandy-making in sixteenth-century and later Moquegua lends itself to a great variety of theoretical approaches, many of which appeared in the last two decades. I have selected some of them—archaeology of capitalism, actor-network theory, world-system theory, frontier theory—to frame my interpretive narrative. Others could have been chosen.

This volume draws inspiration from Amy Trubek’s The Taste of Place (2008)—“goût de terroir”—as “the flavor or odor of certain locales that are given to its products, particularly with wine.” The odor of bodega sites in the 1980s was decidedly unpleasant, a consequence of the goats penned (and excreting) in the structures, and so for years following the project I couldn’t bring myself to eat goat cheese. Peruvian wine is not highly esteemed in today’s international markets—I always thought it ironic that Peruvian national airlines served Chilean wine on their international flights in the late 1980s—and evidence suggests this pejorative view may be of long standing. But it seems to be changing: typing “Peru wine” into the Google search engine recently resulted in about 1,300,000 hits, including information on wine tours and guides to Peruvian wines, and the bodegas producing the best wines, located in Ica in south-central coastal Peru, today have their own websites.

Spellings of Quechua and Aymara words, especially toponyms, in all but the most recent literature are highly variable and unstandardized, the inconsistency compounded by notoriously idiosyncratic colonial Spanish orthography. The most obvious issue is that of vowels u and o: Quechua and Aymara employ the vowel u, while the presence of o indicates a hispanicization. Similar difficulties plague the use of consonants t and d. For example, Condesuyos is a hispanicization of Quechua Cuntisuyu. I introduce spellings as found in the original sources, and then generally adopt the more common later Spanish versions (e.g., Cochuna, as opposed to Cuchuna).

Finally, I must add two notes. One concerns my references to "Peru." In the early Colonial period the Virreinato del Perú (Viceroyalty of Peru) encompassed virtually all of the continent of South America except the eastern projection of what is now Brazil. In discussing the Spanish conquest, colonization, and establishment of administrative jurisdictions, viticulture, and so on in the region, considerations of manuscript length and my own scholarly limitations preclude analysis of this vast territory. Thus, except where I specifically reference the Viceroyalty of Peru, my use of "Peru" pertains to the territory of the modern nation-state. Second, I wish to clarify that nothing in Vintage Moquegua (particularly my statements in chapter 14) should be construed as tacit approval of the Spanish conquest of the New World and the accompanying decimation of its indigenous populations and cultures. Nor, for that matter, am I glorifying capitalism. Rather, given that the Spanish conquest did occur and capitalism was introduced, my assertions are simply assessments about the ways and degrees to which the Spaniards achieved their political and economic ends, to the extent that these are (partially) explicable through the models, theories, and data presented herein.

Chapter 1


Contexts and Contextualizing

One could discuss whether to call a wine a product, a value, a habit, or a need, but by all the evidence of history it takes time to develop a distinguished wine and a palate for it.

--James Lockhart, “Trunk Lines and Feeder Lines: The Spanish Reaction to American Resources,” 1991

Vintage Moquegua is a story of Spanish colonialism, emerging capitalism, commodity consumption, and class and identity formation in an agro-industrial periphery of the world-economy. The setting is the tiny Moquegua valley in the desert western mountains of far southern Peru, a nearly forgotten corner of Spain’s once-wealthy New World empire. The time is the Colonial period, 1533 to 1823. The plot concerns the arrival of avaricious strangers into, and their usurpation of, this new land to make it productive in the image of their European homeland and to satisfy their desires for personal wealth.

The methods of both history and archaeology--historical archaeology--are used here to tell the story of Moquegua’s colonial frontier experience, which was above all a story about wine. For more than three centuries, the residents of rural Spanish-colonial Moquegua produced the wines and grape brandy consumed in towns sprinkled through the interior high plateau of the southern Andes. Chief among them were Potosí and the wealthy silver-mining district of Alto Peru, modern Bolivia.

Landscape, Space, and Place

Although the narrative thread here is temporal (i.e., economic history) and the primary actors are human, space and place play active roles. Spaces of interest include "natural" landscapes defined geophysically (oceans, mountains, river valleys) as well as cultural landscapes created by human activity and identified by theoretical concepts: centers and peripheries, frontiers and boundaries. Rather than being neutral/empty, static/passive backgrounds or stages on which human relations and actions are played out through time, these spaces are instead actively constitutive of these relations (Gupta and Ferguson 1997a; Keith and Pile 1993a; Massey 1993; Rodman 1992). No longer is the mantra simply that “space is socially constructed”; instead it is “the social is spatially constructed,” a position that grants spatiality an active role in the production of history and in politics (Massey 1993:146; also Lefebvre 1991).

Of greater interest are places: spaces invested with social meanings by the people who interact with them. Anthropologists’ culturally defined place is approximated by “radical geographers” ’ space: “an active, constitutive, irreducible, necessary component” in the creation of the social (Keith and Pile 1993c:36). Whether frontiers or colonies or towns or nation-states, places are socially identified, created, and contested; they are loci where identities are negotiated and renegotiated and where shifting relations of power are continuously played out. Places are politically fraught because they are “the (covert) medium and (disguised) expression of asymmetrical relations of power” (ibid.: 38).

Moquegua is the place of interest here. As a colonial frontier, its story of “place-becoming” andinternal identity negotiation and power relations is told from diachronic, pericentric, and local-regional perspectives. Moquegua is situated in the rigorous environment of southwestern Peru, which encompasses some of the most dramatic climatic and topographic extremes imaginable: fog-shrouded coastal desert, craggy mountainous sierra, and frigid treeless plateau (altiplano). The altitudinal and climatic extremes of this region were punctuated by frequent but unpredictable natural disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and warm El Niño–driven rains.

The Peruvian environment differed most dramatically from that of conquering Spain by virtue of its extreme physiographic and biotopic contrasts, the narrow compression of altitudinal-environmental zones, and active tectonism. In terms of soils and climate, however, the differences between the two regions, while undeniably real, are less striking (Fernández Dávila 1947:163). Core components of the medieval agro-pastoral economy of the Iberian Peninsula, particularly those of the dry Mediterranean regions of southern Spain--sheep, goats, wheat, grapes, olives, stone fruits, citrus--were easily transferred to Peru. Despite the mountainous terrain and desert, which constituted formidable physical obstacles to agricultural expansion, Old World crops thrived under irrigation in the coastal river valleys. In southern Peru these introduced plants and livestock formed the basis of the agricultural sector of the colonial economy.

Theoretical Context 1: Colonial Encounters

Among the pivotal issues in comparative studies of complex societies are the interrelated and complex processes of cultural contacts, interactions, colonial encounters, colonialism, and imperialism. Anthropological and archaeological scholarship on the subject has greatly expanded since the mid-1990s (e.g., Cusick 1998; Dietler 2005, 2007; Ewen 2000; Gosden 2004; Lyons and Papadopoulos 2002; Pels 1997; Prakash 1995; Schortman and Urban 1998; Silliman 2005; Stein 1998, 2005a). A frequent aim is to create the broadest-possible theory or concepts for describing and understanding cultural encounters and expansionist interactions, ancient and modern--a “covering model” of sorts. Unsurprisingly, with this ambitious goal, theoretical configurations are often deemed unsatisfactory and little agreement exists, for example, on whether we are studying colonies, colonization, or colonialism (Stein 2005b:4–5). Indeed, the methods to achieve this goal seem predestined to fail: studies of diverse colonies from throughout world history are amassed . . . then dismay ensues when no concurrence on theory has been achieved and no universal narrative created.

For anthropologists, a large part of the problem stems from frustration in trying to apply concepts and definitions developed by twentieth-century historians. For example, the strict definition of “colony” by Moses I. Finley (1976) is rejected as “over-restrictive” (Stein 2005b:10). World-system theory is similarly dismissed: it provides “mechanistically reductionist, structurally overdetermined, functionalist explanations,” and even center–periphery distinctions pose some “alarming dangers” in reifying hegemony (Dietler 2005:58, 59).

But it strikes me as unreasonable to assume, in this postcolonial world, that any of these concepts/models/approaches should be applicable in all times and places. Is it realistic to expect that colonies established through early modern European expansion and the rise of capitalism will be directly comparable to those of ancient Greece or Rome? The so-called traditional model of European colonial expansion--emigration from the homeland, subjugation of local inhabitants, exploitation of their labor, and imposition of a controlled political economy--was certainly not a universalist script of rules and practices rigidly pursued by every European country, or even in every colony established by a single country, such as Spain, at all times. But in some situations, such as Spain’s sixteenth-century invasion and colonization of Andean South America, a general world-system model such as that of Immanuel Wallerstein (1974, 1980, 2004) can provide a useful departure point. Similarly, the early mercantilist-capitalist relations between Spain and its Andean colonies (specifically Moquegua) can be appropriately accommodated in the world-system model.

Rather than rejecting such broad historical models, archaeologists might endeavor to recast them to align with contemporary anthropological viewpoints (e.g., Stein 2005b:8–9). Working within an overarching world-system metanarrative does not, of necessity, obviate any specifics of a new interactional paradigm demanding attention to internal dynamics, agency, multivocality, power relations, and diachronic and local perspectives. I incorporate these perspectives in broadening the capitalist world-system model anthropologically and historico-archaeologically.

Archaeological Context

The Moquegua valley is the middle portion of the path of the Río Osmore in far southern Peru. Viewed from the air, the valley is a ribbon-like oasis, a narrow green stripe of tidy farm plots and sparse trees streaking southwestward through the barren Andean desert. The Osmore’s three tributaries emerge high in the Pacific sierra and tumble precipitously down the mountainsides. After they join, the river flows gently southward for 20 km, hugging the base of the hills before abruptly disappearing to run underground for half of the remaining distance to the ocean. On the south side of the broad, arrow-shaped confluence sits the swelling city of Moquegua, a checkerboard of streets and houses and plazas linked by dusty roadways to distant communities nestled in other valley oases high in the mountains. Outside the city’s new suburbs, the landscape is decidedly rural, with adobe structures both occupied and abandoned dotting the edges of the tiny fields.

The Moquegua Bodegas Project

Fieldwork and data collection were carried out during six summer field seasons between 1985 and 1990 as the Moquegua Bodegas Project, which focused on the valley’s winery sites. The project was an archaeological and historical investigation of economic and technological factors influencing the establishment and functioning of colonial Moquegua’s wine and brandy agro-industry. Goals can be phrased in several ways.

One set of goals lay in the realm of historical geography: What were the locations and dates of the first Spanish settlements in the Moquegua valley, and what was the history of landholdings? The project involved inventorying the rural valley’s colonial cultural heritage just as it was disappearing rapidly in the face of modernization--describing the architectural and artifactual assemblages that characterized the wine agro-industry’s technology before they were destroyed by construction of new buildings, roads, and irrigation canals.

On an analytic level, the Bodegas Project fit squarely within James Deetz’s (1977:5) definition of historical archaeology as “the archaeology of the spread of European culture throughout the world since the fifteenth century and its impact on indigenous peoples.” Thus the Bodegas Project was concerned with processes of change in one kind of "macro"-space: a periphery of colonialism, the southwestern Peruvian Andes, and the accommodation, adaptation, and transformation of European and indigenous cultural patterns in the region during the Colonial period. I was interested in how Spanish cultural practice associated with wine was imposed and reproduced, the degree to which it may or may not have involved integration with indigenous cultural modes, and, ultimately, how it was transformed into a distinctly Peruvian enterprise.

I was also interested in a particular kind of "micro"-space in southwestern Peru: its bodegas. The Spanish word bodega has several referents: "wine cellar, storeroom, warehouse" (New World Spanish/English English/Spanish Dictionary) and also "wine shop, an establishment where wine is made and/or blended and matured, and a firm engaged in making, maturing, and/or shipping wine" (Read 1986:229). The etymology may be traced to a Greek word for a pottery vessel (boutis) that holds wine or to Latin apotheca: a storehouse for wine, wine cellar, warehouse, wineshop, bar (Webster's Third New International Dictionary).

At the same time, I wasinterested in the material expression of identities, drawing inspiration from Peggy K. Liss’s (1975) study of early Mexican colonial history and “the origins of nationality.” Identity construction and negotiation are ongoing processes in frontier settings. The fluid social, economic, and political circumstances of frontier/periphery existence foreground identity construction as a recursive process, but identity negotiation is contingent on context (Keith and Pile 1993c:28), and that context is ever-changing in a frontier or periphery. On a collective level, identity construction is typically a matter of identifying and categorizing differences between “us” and “them,” such as indigenous peoples versus newcomers or, among the latter, between first-comers and later arrivals. Identities, everywhere and always, are “produced through the negotiation of power relations” and are “situationally mutable” (Orser 2010:125, 126).

Elusive and essentialist abstractions such as national identity are, to be sure, difficult to investigate historically and nearly impossible archaeologically. In the Peruvian case especially, long-standing conflicts between competing ethnic and class constituencies have prompted philosophical debates as to whether a “Peruvian nation” even exists as an entity (e.g., Iwasaki Cauti 1988). Nonetheless, “nations, and national cultures are artifacts--continually imagined, invented, contested, and transformed by the agencies of individual persons, the state, and global flows of commodities” (Foster 1991:252). As recent studies link national identity to primary production (Lacoste 2005), to capitalism-fueled consumption of imported goods and modernity (Orlove and Bauer 1997a), and to food (Trubek 2008) and wine (Ulin 1995), such a perspective admits the archaeological exercise of focusing specifically on commodities--and on a single commodity such as wine--to trace its role in this larger process.

A related source of inspiration for the Bodegas Project was Sidney W. Mintz“s investigation of “the anthropology of sugar.” After about 1650, sugar “began to change from a luxury and a rarity into a commonplace and a necessity,” he writes (Mintz 1985: xxix), adding that he wanted to explore the “special significance” of sugar in the growth of capitalism. Like Mintz, whose research in the Caribbean made him want to “know more about sugar and rum and coffee and chocolate” (ibid.: xv), working in Moquegua made me want to know more about wine. Not in the sense of connoisseurship, but rather its history, ecology, and economy as an instrument of and for the colonial and emerging capitalist enterprise. My goal, although I did not realize it at the time, was to investigate terroir: what Amy Trubek (2008) has called “a taste of place.” Wine may not have played as essential a role as sugar in the growth of world capitalism, but it was a significant commodity--a luxury and also a necessity--in much of the early modern Western world.

Until the very late twentieth century, the role of wine in Spanish--and also Roman--imperial colonies was underanalyzed and undertheorized by historians, especially English-speakers. Several reasons for this neglect have been suggested: “the relative unimportance of viticulture in English-speaking areas, the barrier of language, and . . . a certain primness . . . [that] would associate wine with luxury, frivolity and immorality . . . and consequently consider it unworthy of serious study” (Dickenson and Salt 1982:159; also Gusfield 1987:77–78). Related to this puritanism are millennia of morally motivated laws restricting the planting of vineyards in favor of the sustenance of cereals. Wine is polysemic, defined contextually as sacred symbol (blood of Christ) and earthly aphrodisiac, basic foodstuff and luxury import. The many lyrical, humanistic quasi-histories constructed about wine in the classical world render it difficult to tease apart wine fact and wine fiction.

For a serious evaluation of its role in economic history, wine needs to be demythologized and analyzed more broadly--and anthropologically--as the secular commodity it was. From at least Roman times, wine had an important and versatile role in an imperial homeland, in interactions with its colonies, and in intercolony relations. Space- and place-based differences in the role of wine and viticulture contribute significant insights into politico-economic interchanges between cores and their peripheries. Transformations in the socioeconomic role of wine were similar to, as well as different from, those of sugar. In the case of colonial Moquegua, they constitute the warp and weft of the colorful tapestry of the valley’s history.

Latin American Historical Archaeology

Another salient aspect of space, place, and context concerns the (sub)discipline of Spanish-colonial historical archaeology and the intellectual traditions within which it is pursued. Spanish-colonial historical archaeology has a strong grounding in North American scholarship, with researchers focusing on La Florida (e.g., Deagan 1983, 1985) and "Borderlands" areas (Naum 2010; Thomas 1991; Williams and Fournier-Garcia 1996:67–69) such as the Southwestern U.S. and California, since the early twentieth century (Orser 2001). Its history as a discipline in Latin America, particularly in South America, is considerably attenuated, however, and has a different trajectory of development. Several reviews of the literature and assessments of the field have appeared in English-language publications, rendering another such exercise redundant. Instead I simply highlight points relevant to the study of colonial Moquegua and its wine agro-industry.

Historical or colonial archaeology in Latin America began almost by happenstance, through restoration of colonial churches, monasteries, and palatial residences of wealthy elites. These activities were initiated as part of efforts glorifying national identity; they were typically carried out in the absence of theory, they were rarely systematically reported, and the study of material culture--the domain of archaeologists--was mostly undertaken by “others”: art historians, architects, and collectors. The nature of disciplinary relations between archaeology and history was debated, the conflicts exacerbated by a lack of common vocabulary and goals (Funari 1997). In addition, the combination of Marxist-leaning social archaeology, military rule, and dictatorship in many parts of South America stifled free inquiry in archaeology in general (Funari 1997:193–194, 197; Jamieson 2005:354–355). These were fundamental disagreements about who owns the past and who creates its “grand historical narratives” (Gilchrist 2005): indigenous ethnic groups? Euro-American elites? historians? archaeologists? politico-military leaders?

Jamieson’s (2005) review of historical archaeology in the Andes noted an enduring concept for researchers in the pre-Spanish periods of this area: lo Andino, the constellation of cultural traits that define the region's uniqueness but which also contribute to a static, essentialist view of its history. It is only around the mid-1980s that Ibero-American archaeology broadened to incorporate rural sites, industrial and plantation landscapes, and early Colonial-period mission sites and reducción communities (see, e.g., Funari 1997; Jamieson 2000; Wernke 2007a, 2007b). Despite these developments, there is still no “unity of theoretical approaches’ and archaeologists “have not created any sort of uniquely Andean brand of historical archeology. Part of this may be due to the heavy investment in idealizing the pre-Columbian past [lo Andino] as a model for national identity” (Jamieson 2005:353). Another part may stem from the multiple nationalities and academic traditions brought to these endeavors.

Theoretical Context 2: The Archaeology of Capitalism

Because this study is about wine, an important commodity in the Spanish-colonial world, it is also inevitably about--and an archaeology of--capitalism. Capitalism has been around for a while, but it is relatively new as a label for an archaeological approach (Leone 1995; Orser 2010:120–125). The definition and origins of capitalism are much contested by historians, economists, and other social theorists. Neither my background nor my present goals give me license to contribute authoritatively to these debates, but they do require me to provide an overview.

Microhistory of Capitalism

Capitalism, or the capitalist mode of production, is based in the relations of means of production (land, tools, resources), such that some people (capitalists) hold more wealth in the form of these resources, which they use to buy other people’s labor (Wolf 1982:77). Laborers produce surpluses over and above their “wage packages,’ and it is the drive to increase these surpluses and reinvest them in the enterprise that is at the heart of capitalism. Capitalist production, then, is a process of “continuously expanding surpluses by intensifying productivity through an ever-rising curve of technological inputs,’ thereby transforming the means of production (ibid.: 78).

Capitalism presupposes the existence of money-based economies and production of goods for exchange (surplus production) rather than for household use or “own use.’ In its simplest sense capitalism is based on the distribution of these goods at an elevated price to realize a profit (Hooker 1996). Profit-making was an element of the ancient Roman imperial market economy as well as that of later Muslim cultures, both of which strongly influenced pre-expansionist Iberia. Early medieval (ninth through twelfth centuries) capitalism is often referred to as merchant capitalism or early mercantilism (table 1.1) because it is characterized by significant innovations in commercial practices, including the formation of trading companies and partnerships and concepts of contracts, credit, and capital. Eric Wolf (1982:79), however, argues that merchant capitalism is not “real’ (sensu Marx) capitalism because there is no reinvestment of wealth/surpluses in intensified production and enhanced means of production.

Early mercantilism in Europe is often associated with a social formation called feudalism, another concept that is difficult to define and contested by historians. Two general meanings are common (Halsall 1998): (1) a society in which “peasant agriculture is the fundamental productive activity and in which a small elite defined by military activity dominates” (sometimes called manorialism); (2) “a system of reciprocal personal relations among members of the military elite.” Feudalism is characterized by a lack of centralized politico-economic administration and provision of services; instead, wealthy landholders granted parcels of land (fiefs) to tenants (vassals) in exchange for their labor in agricultural production and military service. The duty of the local lords or knights was to protect their vassals and their property during the frequent raids and conflicts that erupted in the countryside.

Later medieval relations and practices began to typify what might be called true mercantilism, which laid the foundation for the development of industrial (Marxist) capitalism in the eighteenth century. Easier to describe than to define, mercantilism is characterized by concepts, policies, and practices predicated on the existence of more centralized, territorially based, political-administrative institutions (a state). A related concept is bullionism, which holds that a state’s financial strength and prestige rested in precious metals such as gold and silver (Rempel n.d.). Bullionism produced a cascade of other economic expectations and practices, including the need to export more goods than are imported, the need for economic self-sufficiency and foreign markets, and the belief that domestic production by a large labor force was important for both food and taxes (ibid.). These principles clearly relate to subsequent European military, commercial, and colonization efforts of expansion: mercantile ambitions were the driving force underlying the European voyages of exploration beginning in the fifteenth century (Hooker 1996; Wolf 1982).

My interest here is in the feudal/capitalist transition and in the period roughly from 1450 to 1800, in terms of the unleashing (or not) of capitalist forces in southern Peru and the region’s integration into the world-economy. From the beginning of Iberian expansion into what is now South America, this southern continent was “part of the world capitalist economy, though not necessarily itself capitalist” (McCreery 2000:5). Why focus on wine? Wine has been produced in two distinct economic systems, domestic/subsistence/polyculture and political/commercial/monoculture (Unwin 1991:11). Because sustained production in the latter mode emerged in postmedieval/early modern Europe, wine production in early colonial South America is a particularly appropriate context to investigate this transition. Here we can examine changing labor systems, incorporation of innovations, and rapid colonial commoditization of wine as these processes accompanied and accommodated the creation of new capitalist political and economic structures.

Capitalism and Its Socioeconomic Elements

Most broadly, capitalism is a complex of interrelated, power-based, social relations and practices that varied from century to century and culture to culture. Its study has been particularly associated with Marxist thought and concepts of class conflict, industrialization, and factory production (Johnson 1996:7). Mark Leone (1999:4) defines the social relations of capitalism in terms of the power relations among resources, or “capital” (land, raw materials, money, property, goods); private owners (a.k.a. capitalists) of the vast majority of those resources as opposed to communal ownership; and wage workers, who lack these resources and sell their labor (as a commodity) to capitalists to make a living.

With regard to the archaeological study of capitalism, a key component is socioeconomic relations: “Capitalist society is characterized by owners, governments, and their agents continuously introducing technical changes that alter the structure of labor, and pushing these changes into areas, cultures, and classes where they did not exist before, or where they become intensified” (Leone 1999:4). Capitalism emphasizes economic growth, expansion (frequently exploitative), commoditization, and objectification, the goal being profit and the creation of more wealth and power (hegemony). Clearly, unequal access to resources has characterized human groups for millennia, leading to unequal power relations between and among individuals, groups, and institutions. But capitalism, with its increasing alienation of the means of production, especially land, created entirely new spatial logics of social and economic relations: new identities--of capitalists versus workers; new relations of power and domination; new materialized social realities; and new kinds of spatialized identity politics (Keith and Pile 1993b:2–4).

A second important component of an archaeology of capitalism is technology and material objects or commodities: how technology is incorporated into surplus production and how material objects “are produced, circulated and consumed and the social and economic values people place upon them” during their use-lives (Johnson 1996:6; Leone 1999:17–18). Many kinds of material things may be considered commodities in a politico-economic sense, that is, as having not only use value (wine is a pleasant drink) but also exchange value (wine can be traded for other goods). Influenced by the Annales School of historians, the study of things--whether identified as artifacts, commodities, or material culture--is increasingly based on viewing them as active agents (Latour 2005) in creating cultural meanings (Giddens 1981), and as having social lives (Appadurai 1986) and active voices (Beaudry, Cook, and Mrozowski 1991).

Finally, capitalism is also a “way of thinking” about (Hooker 1996) and an ideology of (Burke 1999:226–230; Leone 1999:6–7) these relations and practices, which are situated in the European Enlightenment. Capitalism is fundamentally individualistic and future-directed, based on the idea of progress (economic growth) through increasingly productive labor and rational calculation. Perhaps most significantly for archaeologists, capitalism created a distinct consumer culture that signifies modernity, distances producers from consumers, and leads to people’s identification with objects ("commodity fetishism").

Moquegua’s early colonial experience must be understood in this ambiguous context. The task of an archaeology of capitalism is to discover the newly arisen identities and power relations, and materializations of both, as well as the variable patterns of access to the resources conferring power, to understand why they changed over time and how they meshed with profit motives. More specifically, historical archaeologists working in an archaeology of capitalism framework must achieve three objectives (Leone 1999:19): (1) identify the workings of capitalism (“capital extraction, alienation, and supply and demand”); (2) determine how these enter into communities and bring about culture change; and (3) develop an understanding of the implications of these in daily activities--for example, the changing nature of work (McCreery 2000).

Industrial archaeology investigates the physical structures associated with the eighteenth-century Industrial Revolution and its expansion through subsequent centuries. Less reliant on traditional excavation, industrial archaeology is more concerned with the spatial aspects of capitalism and the meanings given to places: “the discovery, listing, recording and, where appropriate, the preservation of the physical remains of past economic and social activity” (Minchinton 1983:125). Since beginning in Britain in the 1950s, industrial archaeology has evolved multiple goals and meanings depending on who is practicing it and where. It may refer strictly to the post-1750 period of the Euro-American world; to the archaeology of any industry, regardless of date; to heritage management--the documentation and preservation of the landscapes created by industry (Minchinton 1983); or to twentieth-century globalization (see Beaudry 2005; Casella 2005:3–8; Casella and Symonds 2005; Hardesty 2000; Palmer 1990)--or it may be specifically concerned with the use of technology or mechanical power in production and “processes governed explicitly by principles of engineering and science” (Gordon and Malone 1994:15).

Regardless of these definitions, what is perhaps most striking about recent trends in industrial archaeology is an emphasis on consumer behavior with regard to goods that, although mass-produced, may be invested with multiple social meanings. These meanings occur on diverse scales, and may vary throughout the objects’ use-lives and statuses of consumers (for example, colonists vis-à-vis indigenous occupants in colonial contexts, and kin groups within each).

Wine and Alcohol

Study of Moquegua’s colonial viti-vinicultural agro-industry also can be situated in the growing anthropological and archaeological literature theorizing the relations among feasting, food and drink, and power (e.g., Dietler and Hayden 2001). Food (including drink) is culturally defined by virtue of the selection of ingredients, techniques of preparation, styles of presentation, behavioral expectations, and contexts of consumption (Dietler 2006:232). Consequently, food is a “versatile and highly charged symbolic medium” (ibid.: 222), intimately connected to the formation and expression of personal and cultural identities and memories (Dietler 2007; Holtzman 2006; Scholliers 2001; Twiss 2007; Wilson 2005).

Until the 1970s, anthropologists had little interest in the cultural context of alcohol use (Heath 1987a). Michael Dietler (2006:230, 231) refers to an early “alcohol-as-pathology literature” and a prevailing attitude in which wine and alcohol were “demonized” and seen as “a kind of antifood” as a consequence of “the recent Euro-American . . . urban-industrial social order and the demands of capitalist work discipline.” Currently, however, there exists a substantial anthropological literature on the role of alcohol--primarily beer, but also wine--and ingestion of ritual inebriants (e.g., Douglas 1987a; McGovern 2003; Moore 1989). This literature addresses the contexts of production and consumption of alcoholic beverages (and other foods) as components of creating social relations through ritual, feasting, and the meanings attached to these drinks. Certain patterns of drinking alcohol trace the shift in labor and distinctions of work and leisure that accompanied industrial capitalism (Douglas 1987b:8; Gusfield 1987).

The consumption of alcoholic beverages is marked, in most societies, by rules of inclusion and exclusion about who can drink what, how much, where, and with whom they can drink it (Douglas 1987b:8–9; Heath 1982:63). These rules tend to pertain most specifically to people of different statuses, but also to male versus female and young versus old. In many societies, fermented beverages are produced domestically (e.g., beers made from maize, manioc, bananas; wines from rice, dates) and may constitute significant portions of the diet, consumed throughout the day by the entire household, young and old. Consumption patterns of beer are often contrasted--worldwide, and over the millennia--with those of wine: wine was an exclusionary beverage of elites; beer was the inclusive drink of the masses.

Indigenous Andean South America is a beer-drinking society, with regular consumption of maize beer, or chicha (Cobo 1983:28; Cooper 1949:539–541; Dillehay 2003; Doughty 1979; Moore 1989; Nicholson 1960; Orlove and Bauer 1997b). Low in alcohol content and high in certain nutrients (protein and vitamin C), chicha is widely considered a food and large quantities are expected to be served as a gesture of reciprocity for communal labor, particularly work parties on the lands of native leaders, or kurakas (Doughty 1979:69; Van Buren 1996:346). Supplying and drinking chicha, whether in small groups or community festivals, are elements of rites of passage, means of reinforcing social and power relations, and ways to promote solidarity. Drunkenness in such circumstances “tends to be either rare or an occasional deliberate, approved, and socially contextualized event,” albeit sometimes leading to fighting (Heath 1982:71; also Cooper 1949:544–545).

Patterns of, and rules about, imbibing inebriants constitute identity markers and are of particular interest in situations of contacts between people of different cultures. The two cultures may have different substances, including alcohol, entailing different rules of decorum. Consumption, as Dietler (2005:64–65) reminds us, “is a process of structured improvisation that continually materializes cultural order by also dealing with alien objects and practices through either transformative appropriation and assimilation or rejection.” How does this “process of structured improvisation“ work itself out over time, given the shifting circumstances of power and identity in a colonial situation? How are the roles and rules relating to production and consumption of alcoholic beverages negotiated and renegotiated?

From the beginnings of the Spanish colonial enterprise in the Americas, alcohol “marked clear divisions between native and European populations” (Orlove and Bauer 1997b:121). Indigenous Andean elites and commoners alike drank beer, which was produced in homes and by the state; the Spaniards drank wine, which was a commodity produced and sold for profit. The adoption of a new form of drinking--as, for example, wine by native Andeans--is not uncommon in contact situations, where it becomes a “diacritical” symbol of the status of indigenous elites (Dietler 1990:379). Wine helped construct boundaries of identities between elites and nonelites, for example through patron–client relationships (Dietler 2006:237). Thus in colonial situations like Moquegua, wine--its production, commoditization, trade, consumption, taxation, and relation to secondary industries--is an instrument of power and an active agent (literally, through its psychotropic properties) of cultural transformation.

Food in general and wine in particular have been “a consistently prominent material medium for the enactment of colonialism,” and therefore have considerable potential to illuminate “colonial situations and their transformative effects on identity” (Dietler 2007:219). Wine production and trade have been important components of imperial economies since Roman times and perhaps earlier. Compared to beer, wine and especially brandy have greater potential to participate in commodity circulation because they can be stored without spoiling for longer periods (ibid.: 239).

The Present Volume: Caveats

In the late 1980s, when the Moquegua Bodegas Project was carried out, the anthropological contexts for “theorizing wine” and its role in colonial encounters did not exist, and thus the Bodegas Project was undertaken virtually in a theoretical vacuum. The major theoretical positions that could be brought to bear were variants of center–periphery models (including the world-system and dependency) and old concepts such as acculturation and transculturation related to culture contacts. Similarly, historical archaeology had little if any theory behind it (see Orser 1996:12–16; 2010) and a distinct Ibero-American archaeology did not exist. The archaeology of capitalism was in its infancy, as was industrial archaeology, and the scant anthropological work on alcohol focused primarily on medical studies (Heath 1987b). Fortunately, these then-nascent archaeologies have blossomed in the twenty years since Bodegas Project fieldwork was completed and they now provide a rich interpretive framework for this narrative.

My interest in the consumption of wine and brandy in colonial southern Peru does not center on cultural patterns, habits, and contexts of drinking and feasting. Nor do I systematically address the introduction of a foreign food (wine, brandy) to the native peoples of the Andes and the subsequent processes of its incorporation into indigenous structures of religion, power, and social identity. Unlike most ethnohistorical or anthropological explorations of the Andean oikumene in Colonial times, my focus is not on indigenous populations and subalterns but rather on the European colonists themselves.

My aim is to position Moquegua's Colonial-period history and material culture within a broader cultural landscape. Because neither wine nor historical/colonial archaeology has been intensively explored from an anthropological viewpoint in Peruvian studies to date, I devote considerable attention to establishing the contexts for Moquegua's colonial experience. It is within these contexts--theoretical (part I), historical (part II), and vinicultural (part III)--that the material heritage of the Moquegua valley (part IV) must be understood and interpreted. The specialized archaeological data and analyses overviewed in part IV have been extensively discussed in earlier publications by me and by other project members, but thorough contextualization has been lacking.

This narrative is one of microhistory (Brooks, DeCorse, and Walton 2008; also Orser 2010:118–119). Its focus is on individuals, small social groups (households, families), and their networks and institutions, inhabiting a small space and place: Moquegua. Colonial Moquegua's story situates itself at the intersection of the local with the global and the entangled processes of colonialism, incipient capitalism, and commoditization. In telling this story I am attempting to “see bifocally": capitalism may require a “double surveillance of space” in considering both local profits and remote markets (Peters 1997:76). My overall perspective is decidedly pericentric.

My approach is also diachronic: I look at both Spain and the Moquegua valley before the 1533 conquest of Peru, then concentrate on the events of Spanish settlement of the latter. I explore the valley’s changing roles as frontier, periphery, and semiperiphery over a period of roughly three centuries on the fringes of Spanish imperial expansion. I am interested in processes and agents: of initial European colonization, of the establishment of a viti-vinicultural agro-industry, and of the roles of wine and brandy as commodities in the social and political economies of the valley and the region. These activities were played out during the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries, with the industry’s denouement in the late nineteenth century.