by Parker VanValkenburgh
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Publication date: May 18, 2021
Hardcover: 328 pages
The book “Alluvium and Empire” delves into the untold stories of Indigenous people who were subjected to one of the most massive forced resettlement campaigns in human history, known as the Reducción General. Back in 1569, Spanish administrators embarked on an ambitious project to relocate over 1.4 million Indigenous individuals into carefully planned towns referred to as “reducciones.” The primary objective was to reshape their households, communities, and religious practices under Spanish influence.
However, in the Zaña Valley of northern Peru, this endeavor did not unfold according to the Spanish plan. In “Alluvium and Empire,” author Parker VanValkenburgh investigates both the immediate consequences and the enduring impacts of Indigenous resettlement in this region. The book particularly underscores the development of intricate relationships between Indigenous communities, imperial institutions, and the ever-changing environments of Peru’s northern coast.
Drawing upon nearly a decade of fieldwork and extensive archival research, this volume provides a nuanced portrayal of the Reducción General and its aftermath. Situated at the intersection of history and archaeology, “Alluvium and Empire” not only bears witness to the brutality of Spanish colonization but also sheds light on the resilience of Indigenous communities in the aftermath of resettlement.
Throughout this exploration, VanValkenburgh challenges previous approaches to the study of empires and introduces a genealogical approach that pays close attention to the evolving, and often unpredictable, processes through which empires take form.