The article explores the causes, ideological underpinnings, and political repercussions of land battles among the Pocoata, an ethnic group in the southern Andes, during the eighteenth century. These disputes afford us a glimpse into the competing native concepts of land tenure rights; the array of means, legal and extralegal, Andean and Spanish, of solving conflicts between families and ayllus; and the key role of the ethnic chiefs in the struggles over community boundaries and the distribution of plots among community members. The essay argues that, by underscoring the inability of both native and colonial rulers to handle mounting demographic pressures, the intense process of intraethnic strife contributed to the disruption of rural authority.

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