Potosí’s mita continues to intrigue students of colonial Andean history. Peter Bakewell, Jeffrey Cole, and Enrique Tandeter analyzed how the system of forced labor affected the mining economy of Upper Peru. Other scholars, especially the late Thierry Saignes, examined the mita’s impact on indigenous society in the home provinces. Ignacio González Casasnovas now provides an insightful study, based on his doctoral dissertation, of the conditions at Potosí and in the mita provinces that led to the late-seventeenth-century attempts to reform the labor system.

Not particularly original but useful nonetheless, the first third of the book summarizes the secondary literature about how the mita by the late 1600s affected life in the Andean villages subject to Potosí. Drawing on works by Saignes, Luis Miguel Glave, Carlos Sempat Assadourian, and others, González Casasnovas presents an excellent synthesis of the structural problems that undermined the provinces’...

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