Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru

Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru

University of Pittsburgh Press
April 2012
272 pages
6 x 9
Paper  ISBN: 9780822961932

Rachel Sarah O’Toole, Associate Professor of History
University of California, Irvine

Bound Lives chronicles the lived experience of race relations in northern coastal Peru during the colonial era. Rachel Sarah O’Toole examines how Andeans and Africans negotiated and employed casta, and in doing so, constructed these racial categories. Royal and viceregal authorities separated “Indians” from “blacks” by defining each to specific labor demands. Casta categories did the work of race, yet, not all casta categories did the same type of work since Andeans, Africans, and their descendants were bound by their locations within colonialism and slavery. The secular colonial legal system clearly favored indigenous populations. Andeans were afforded greater protections as “threatened” native vassals. Despite this, in the 1640s during the rise of sugar production, Andeans were driven from their assigned colonial towns and communal property by a land privatization program. Andeans did not disappear, however; they worked as artisans, muleteers, and laborers for hire. By the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, Andeans employed their legal status as Indians to defend their prerogatives to political representation that included the policing of Africans. As rural slaves, Africans often found themselves outside the bounds of secular law and subject to the judgments of local slaveholding authorities. Africans therefore developed a rhetoric of valuation within the market and claimed new kinships to protect themselves in disputes with their captors and in slave-trading negotiations. Africans countered slaveholders’ claims on their time, overt supervision of their labor, and control of their rest moments by invoking customary practices. Bound Lives offers an entirely new perspective on racial identities in colonial Peru. It highlights the tenuous interactions of colonial authorities, indigenous communities, and enslaved populations and shows how the interplay between colonial law and daily practice shaped the nature of colonialism and slavery.


  • acknowledgments
  • introduction: Constructing Casta on Peru’s Northern Coast
  • chapter 1. Between Black and Indian: Labor Demands and the Crown’s Casta
  • chapter 2. Working Slavery’s Value, Making Diaspora Kinships
  • chapter 3. Acting as a Legal Indian: Natural Vassals and Worrisome Natives
  • chapter 4. Market Exchanges and Meeting the Indians Elsewhere
  • chapter 5. Justice within Slavery
  • conclusion. The Laws of Casta, the Making of Race
  • appendix 1. Origin of Slaves Sold in Trujillo over Time by Percentage (1640–1730)
  • appendix 2. Price Trends of Slaves Sold in Trujillo (1640–1730)
  • explanation of Appendix Data
  • notes
  • glossary
  • bibliography
  • index
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