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Nonmarket Imperialism in the Prehispanic Americas: The Inka Occupation of the Titicaca Basin

  • Charles Stanish (a1)

Abstract

This paper analyzes the expansion of the Inka state into the Lake Titicaca Basin of the south-central Andes. While the expansion of the Inka state can be modeled in general terms as a type of core-periphery transformation typical of all preindustrial empires, I argue that the particular cultural context in which it developed determined the nature of its expansion strategies. This context was characterized by a nonmarket political economy in which reciprocal, redistributive, and nonmarket trade mechanisms predominated. Archaeological and historical data indicate that the Inka occupation was characterized by profound changes in the local political economy in the Titicaca Basin. I argue that the lack of market systems in central Andean society was a key factor that affected the strategies of imperial control in this major Inka provincial territory, promoting highly intrusive labor and population control mechanisms. This historical context differed from other areas of the Prehispanic Americas, such as central Mexico, where market systems promoted tribute-in-kind strategies that involved less intrusive strategies of imperial expansion.

Este artículo analiza la expansión del estado incaico hacia la cuenca del Lago Titicaca de los Andes sur-centrales. Mientras que la expansión del estado incaico se puede modelar en términos de los "sistemas mundiales," típicos de todos los imperios preindustriales, sugiero que el contexto cultural particular en el cual se desarrolló determinó la naturaleza de las estrategias de expansión. Este contexto fue caracterizado por un economía política sin mecanismos de mercado, en la que predominó la reciprocidad, la redistribución y el trueque sin mercado. Los datos arqueológicos e históricos indican que la ocupación incaica estuvo caracterizada por cambios profundos en la economía política local en la Cuenca del Titicaca. Sugiero que la falta de mecanismos de mercado en la sociedad andina fue un factor clave que afectó la estrategia de control imperial en esta importante provincia incaica, promoviendo mecanismos de control de la fuerza de trabajo y la población. Este contexto histórico se distingue de otras áreas de la América prehispánica, como la Cuenca de México, donde los sistemas de mercado promovieron estrategias de tributo que fueron caracterizadas por mercanismos de expansión imperial menos intrusivos.

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Nonmarket Imperialism in the Prehispanic Americas: The Inka Occupation of the Titicaca Basin

  • Charles Stanish (a1)

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