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Title: Textile production and structural crisis : the case of the late colonial Peru.
Author: Zaugg, Monica.
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 1993
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Large-scale production of woollen cloth represented colonial Peru's predominant manufacturing sector. In an economy largely based on barter trade, cloth ranked among the means of exchange of the highest estimation and formed part of the wages of many workers throughout the viceroyalty. Principal domestic purchasers were the urban conglomerations and the silver mining centres. Consignments to other American destinations along the routes of inter-regional trade supplemented the extensive distribution of domesticallymanufactured cloth within the viceroyalty. Contemporary observers unanimously perceived the introduction of comercio libre in 1778, with its extended transatlantic imports of cheaper and superior textiles, as the immediate cause of a subsequent decline of the sector. However, a careful analysis of primary documentation contradicts this general assumption. The cloth manufacturers of the northern and central Andean region - Huamachuco, for example - experienced, in fact, a period of continuing and substantial growth after 1778, primarily as a reflection of the prosperity of the silver mining economy in 1770-1810. Thereafter, cloth production spiralled down to a lower level but still superseded the volume realized in the 1750s, when the legalization of the reparto system had initiated a first pull towards expansion. The two chief cloth centres of the southern sierra, the areas of Huamanga and Cuzco, by contrast, clearly displayed symptoms of decline during the same late colonial era. Dramatic price reductions in their main outlets in Upper Peru particularly from the 1760s as well as the repercussions of the Tupac Amaru rebellion in 1780-1783 fundamentally debilitated the industry. The onset of the struggle for independence in Upper Peru in 1809 and the 1814 upheaval in Cuzco further drained the sector of manpower and capital and frustrated the movement of merchandise along traditional routes. Factors like the incorporation of the Upper Peruvian silver mining centres into the newly established viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata in 1776 and the ensuing liberalization of transatlantic trade, which might have severely damaged the sector in a politically undisturbed period, were under the actual circumstances of no significant consequence. Large-scal~ textile production in viceregal Peru, formally supervl.sed and controlled by the crown, was performed in obrajes and chorrillos, manufacturing establishments distinguished from each other by the type of fulling mill in use. The plants were in general operated on the basis of a rigid division and control of labour and usually comprised a relatively large workforce.· Being the central part of a hacienda network, they were essentially a manifestation of the rural Spanish economy.~
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History History Economics