In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Nation

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Contemporary Political Movements

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section


Latin American Studies Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Nation
Marc Becker
  • LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0059


The Andean region of South America is alternatively understood as a geographic, historical, or cultural area. The Spanish named the steep mountain slopes that parallel the Pacific coast along the entire western edge of South America the Andes because of their terraced appearance. The mountain range begins in Venezuela in the northern part of the continent and runs through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and along the Chile/Argentina border to the southern tip of the continent. Historically, Tawaninsuyu (the Inca Empire) extended almost the entire length of the mountains. In 1532, the Spanish colonized the area as part of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Independence movements created the current countries in the 1820s. The term Andes is also used to refer to a set of common cultural characteristics that pre-date the Incas and have evolved and persisted until the present. Studies of these cultural traits often focus on the central Andean republics of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia and commonly interrogate subaltern challenges to dominant state structures. That more limited focus is the emphasis of this article.

General Overviews

A good comprehensive study of the Andean world remains to be written. In the absence of a synthetic survey, readers desiring an introductory text will have to consult books with a more limited conceptual reach or edited volumes that draw on the expertise of multiple scholars. The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas (Salomon and Schwartz 1999) is a lengthy but masterful collection of studies. Andrien 2001 limits his focus to the Spanish colonial period but draws on a range of cultural, political, and economic topics that are representative of the region as a whole. The essays in Thurner and Guerrero 2003 similarly provide a useful introduction to post-independence themes. Jacobsen and Aljovín de Losada 2005 and Larson, et al. 1995 help situate developments in the Andes in terms of theoretical debates. Larson 2004 is the best single volume on the 19th century. Drake 1989 focuses more narrowly on a key point in the development of capitalism in the 1920s. Urbano 1991 focuses more specifically on issues of power and violence.

  • Andrien, Kenneth J. Andean Worlds: Indigenous History, Culture, and Consciousness under Spanish Rule, 1532–1825. Diálogos. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001.

    A broadly conceptualized synthetic study of the colonial Andes. Organized thematically rather than chronologically, with a particular focus on economics and religion. A final chapter examines Andean resistance to Spanish rule, including Tupac Amaru’s 1780 uprising. Provides an excellent entry point to the colonial Andes.

  • Drake, Paul W. The Money Doctor in the Andes: The Kemmerer Missions, 1923–1933. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1989.

    This book analyzes the technical assistance that Princeton University economist Edwin Walter Kemmerer provided to five Andean republics in the 1920s. The missions advocated centralized economic and political controls that led to far-reaching modernization. A fundamental work for understanding the emergence of capitalism in the Andes.

  • Jacobsen, Nils, and Cristóbal Aljovín de Losada, eds. Political Cultures in the Andes, 1750–1950. Latin America Otherwise. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.

    A highly theoretical volume with essays prepared by leading scholars for a conference at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2000. This collection of comparative historical studies focuses on Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru from the mid-18th to the mid-20th century and provides a key entry point to understanding debates about state formation in the Andes.

  • Larson, Brooke. Trials of Nation Making: Liberalism, Race, and Ethnicity in the Andes, 1810–1910. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

    Expands from a key chapter in The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas (Salomon and Schwartz 1999) on the emergence of state formation in the 19th century. With separate chapters on each Andean republic, this text provides the best interpretative synthesis of subaltern attempts to shape the nature of the types of nations elites sought to form in the Andes.

  • Larson, Brooke, and Olivia Harris, with Enrique Tandeter, eds. Ethnicity, Markets, and Migration in the Andes: At the Crossroads of History and Anthropology. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995.

    A monumental compilation of historical and anthropological studies by prominent scholars on markets and exchange structures in the Andes. Editors Larson and Harris contextualize the study with excellent discussions of economic systems and ethnic relations. Challenges standard notions of how peasants confronted processes of state formation.

  • Salomon, Frank, and Stuart B. Schwartz, eds. The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas. Vol. 3 of South America. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

    This massive two-part volume summarizes the current state of research on indigenous peoples in the Andes from their arrival on the continent to the present. Rather than aiming for a comprehensive handbook, it emphasizes key themes. Particularly strong on the precontact and colonial periods.

  • Thurner, Mark, and Andrés Guerrero, eds. After Spanish Rule: Postcolonial Predicaments of the Americas. Latin America Otherwise. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.

    An outstanding collection of essays by historians and anthropologists that engages postcolonial debates in the Americas. Conceptualized as covering all of Latin America, but the editors as well as most of the contributors are Andeanists.

  • Urbano, Henrique, ed. Poder y violencia en los Andes. Debates Andinos 18. Cuzco, Peru: Centro de Estudios Regionales Andinos Bartolomé de Las Casas, 1991.

    A collection of papers from an interdisciplinary colloquium on power and violence held in Quito, Ecuador, in 1990. Written during the context of the Shining Path guerrilla insurgency in Peru. Leading scholars analyze the formation of state structures in a broad historical and cultural context.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.