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Labour Regimes and Expanding Frontiers.docx

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Department
Geography
Course
Geography 2020A/B
Professor
Anthony Weis
Semester
Winter

Description
Jan, 22, 2013 Labour Regimes and Expanding Frontiers -The rape of accumulated treasure was followed by the systematic exploitation of the forced labour of Indians and abducted Africans in the mines -Mining produced the most spectacular profits in the colonial New World, but the plantations employed more people and, in the end, produced greater wealth -Spain’s primary colonial priorities were the Viceroyalty of New Spain and the Viceroyalty of Peru and exploitation of precious minerals drove the behaviour of Spanish authorities for most of the colonial period After Conquest: -They had to decide who owned the wealth of Latin America and how was it to be distributed -The Spanish Crown under Charles V crushed seeds of urban democracy in Spain -Conquistadores were ‘men on the make’ but not democrats and they wanted to be feudal lords and the crown sought to restrain their power and Fuentes said ‘these men had to be rewarded, but not too much…’ Systems of Exploiting Indigenous Labour: Encomeinda System: -Was a system of distributing royal grants where the men had the right to extract labour and tribute which could be virtually anything from the native population and the descendants over a given area (but it was technically not land ownership) -Responsibilities were given to the men in exchange for the grants and they were in control of conversion and paying a fee to Crown and in some cases this resulted in virtual slavery of the natives and it was modified over the centuries -Bartolome de las Casas appealed to the Spanish Crown and the Law of the Indies was passed in 1542 and there were subsequent revisions and it officially protected the natives from slavery and there was more of a focus on tribute but there were constant violations of the law The Spanish Colonies’ Social Hierarchy: -At the top were the minority made up of conquistadors, descendants, and aspiring nobles and just under them were commoners, artisans, small-scale merchants and they both shared sense of superiority -Towns and haciendas were ‘pockets of Spanish control in a sea of Indians’ -Silver mining economically dominates the Spanish -Tribute, labour drafts, and wages were part of the “Republicas de indios’ which provided cheap labour which were connected to Haciendas and mining towns and cities -There was some autonomy and continuities, but not ‘repositories of pre-Hispanic past’ and they grew up in the tug of war between conquerors and conquered Coerced Indigenous Labour in Mines: -Wage labour dominant in mines by mid-1600s in places in Mexico like Taxco, Zacatecas and Guanajuanto -The greatest mine of them all was Potosi in modern-day Bolivia and it was discovered in 1545 and it was a 2000 ft high ‘silver mountain’ -People said ‘the mountain that gushed silver’ and it was the ‘jugular vein’ of the Vice-royalty of Peru -Mita (1570-1823) were forced labour ‘drafts’ (communities had to commit 1/7 of working men) and the practice was often worse than theory but there was some low-waged labour -There were great risks in silver ore extraction such as mercury poisoning and toxic gases -A monk at the time said the mine was a ‘mouth of hell’ which swallowed Indians by the thousands Lima Peru: -Lima was the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru -The economic orientation of Andean region changed very quickly and the old order centred in Cusco was swept aside and resources funnelled through Lima (‘the mainstay of Spanish wealth’) Jan, 22, 2013 Agriculture: -Led to huge ecological change and things like ‘King Sugar’, wheat, barley, oats, cotton, coffee, bananas, and rice were brought to the Americas and they in turn provided the Europeans with maize, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, peanuts, chilli, beans, cocoa, and tobacco but it was the introduction of livestock that was really ecologically more transformative -Previously there were no real beasts of burden but there were some smaller livestock (ex: turkey, Muscovy duck) but the Europeans carried livestock wherever possible and there was a very rapid spread (ex: some ranches in Mexico in late 1500s – 150,000 head of cattle) -Samuel de Champlain in Mexico (1590s) described the “great, level plains, stretching endlessly and everywhere covered with an infinite number of cattle” and there was the introduction of core ‘Old World’ grains (wheat, barley, etc) and the rapid adoption of maize -Livestock provided not only much of the muscle with which exploitation of America was undertaken, but was in itself an important end-product of that exploitation, and a factor spurring Europeans to expand the areas being exploited…the champion European frontiersman of the New World was the cattleman -Again and again, the frontier of European civilization advancing into the interior of the Americas has been that of the cattle industry and this was particularly true in the great grasslands -The contribution of cattle raising to the opening up and conquest of the Brazilian interior would be enough to place it among the most important chapters of its history and this was the root of the grain-livestock complex Agrarian Change in the Spanish Realm: -An agriculture of clean-tilled fields and open pasture replaced a horticulture based on the meticulous cultivation, drainage, and terracing of small plots -Haciendas were supporting mines which were worked by the indigenous population who preformed small farming and crafts on the margins as well as supplying labour to mines and haciendas but this wage labour was coerced Portugal in Brazil: -Britain, Holland, and France were not impressed that Spain and Portugal was acting as if they owned the world -The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) placed a line over the region of the Americas that only left Portugal with a small corner of Brazil while Spain was given the rest of the vast area -Portugal only had a limited interest at first in the new colony because they didn’t see the potential to exploit it for mineral wealth but they did import dyes from Brazil wood from there -The Dutch were one of the leaders in developing sugar and they were very advanced during this time and they wanted finance and trade so in 1630 they invaded NE Brazil for direct control and the British and
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