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Peru, labor and peasant mobilizations, 1900–1950

Paulo Drinot

Subject Social History » Labor History
Sociology » Social Movements

Place Americas » South America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics anarchism, indigenous rights, labor movements, labor unions, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01177.x


Labor and peasant mobilization in Peru in the first half of the twentieth century was shaped by, and helped shape, the country's insertion into the world economy as an exporter of largely unprocessed primary products such as sugar, cotton, wool, rubber, metals, and petroleum. This varied export quantum, fueled by a combination of national and transnational capital, reflected the development of regional economies geared toward the export of commodities that produced distinctive labor arrangements. Labor and peasant mobilization responded to various forces in this context, some bottom-up, but many top-down. In addition to the emergence of political parties and elite organizations purporting to represent, lead, and – in the case of the Andean indigenous peasantry – redeem workers and peasants, the first half of the twentieth century saw the formation of a state apparatus that sought to shape labor and the peasantry through social policy. Labor and peasant mobilization in Peru, as this suggests, was the outcome of a dynamic interplay of various forces. Peru's laboring peoples were largely concentrated in the export economy. In sugar and metal mining, on the northern coast and in the central highlands, respectively, a system of debt peonage gradually gave way to a settled proletarian workforce. In cotton, in the valleys north and south of Lima, a combination of tenant farmers, sharecroppers, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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