In Peasants on Plantations, Vincent C. Peloso presents the richly textured tableaux of life on the cotton plantations of Peru’s Pisco valley, south of Lima. By tracing the evolution of labor arrangements on these plantations from the 1860s through the 1930s, Peloso significantly deepens our understanding of both rural labor forms and the role played by peasants in the formation of Peruvian rural society and culture.

Peloso’s study centers on the Hacienda Palto, owned by the powerful Aspíllaga family. Using plantation records he uncovered in the Fuero Agrario Archive, Peloso demonstrates that labor relations on Palto and other coastal estates were complex phenomena. He chafes against unidimensional accounts that depict monolithic, submissive labor forces forever coerced by absentee landowners and their managerial proxies. Rather, Peloso shows that over time labor encompassed many forms, from indentured servitude for Chinese workers, to wage labor,...

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