History ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2023


This dissertation argues that indigenous peons of nineteenth-century Ecuador maintained ayllu practices of community and reciprocity through the reconfiguration of kinships networks and the reinterpretation of reciprocity within the context of the hacienda system. This argument challenges prevalent beliefs that indigenous networks of kinship and reciprocity largely dissolved with the rise of the hacienda system and the oppressive exploitation of the institution of debt peonage known as concertaje. However, a close reading of the hacienda records shows that, first, indigenous peons used their ability to accrue debt in order to build and maintain communities of both real and fictive kinship networks; and second, that debt did not—and in fact could not—serve as a tool of coercion or exploitation during the nineteenth century. Rather, debt served a symbolic function as the embodiment of the horizontal and vertical relationships of reciprocity that existed within the hacienda community.

Level of Degree


First Committee Member (Chair)

Kimberly Gauderman

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth Hutchison

Third Committee Member

Judy Bieber

Fourth Committee Member

Charles Walker

Fifth Committee Member

Chad Black

Document Type


Included in

History Commons