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For Marta Colque, the past of the hacienda was associated with hard work from dawn to dusk, scarcity and poverty, and the constant lack of food. In contrast, she recalled the community of her birth, Punku Uyu (near the town of Huarina on Lake Titicaca), as a fertile, green place of communal labor, cooking, and eating. Her life on the hacienda, which began with her “arranged” marriage to a tenant peasant farmer, was one of sustained suffering and deprivation, from which she was only partially liberated by the death of her husband and her return to her community of origin.

This testimony forms part of an oral history project, conducted by the Andean Oral History Workshop (THOA), that recovered the voices and experiences of women who labored in servile conditions on the estate but also resisted the haciendas’ encroachment on their communities. The testimony that follows reveals the gender and power relations in the life of Colque’s family, community, and hacienda.

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