Agricultural biodiversity and peasant rights to subsistence in the central Andes during Inca rule

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Pronounced agricultural biodiversity present in the central Andes was shaped through economic and social features of peasant agriculture during Inca rule in the 1400s and the early 1500s. The organization of economic activities into dual production and the claims of peasant households to subsistence rights were particularly formative. Dual production under the Inca entailed various biological and political economic distinctions between surplus-oriented farming and subsistence agriculture. Much surplus-oriented farming relied on a few crops and crop types, and it was organized by the Inca state and the official religion. In contrast, subsistence agriculture contained to majority of diverse crops and crop types, and it was directed by peasant households. Subsistence rights involved the claims to resources that enabled household production of several customary consumption goods. Agricultural biodiversity along with the capacity to marshall sufficient land (including the environmental range of farm land) and labor (including the scheduling of labor) for production formed integral parts of peasant subsistence rights under the Inca. Following Inca downfall, the struggle for subsistence rights by peasants in the central Andes served as a crucial fulcrum for the subsequent history of agricultural biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-32
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Archaeology


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