This paper uses documents generated by the 1594–1595 composiciones de tierras in Cuzco, Peru, to discuss the economic transformation of the former heartland of the Inca Empire and the impact of Spanish administrative policies implemented in the early 1570s. The diverse social and environmental landscapes of rural areas lying to the west of Cuzco provide a range of local case studies that reveal how settlement and tribute policies of the viceroy Francisco de Toledo failed to produce sustainable colonial towns of Christian Indians. Detailed records of indigenous land repartition in the area show gender- and status-based patterns of individual allocations, as well as ecological differences in landholding between communities. The local records indicate the continuing importance of Inca-era community identities and local leadership for maintaining possession of community lands. By contrast, documents related to the composiciones among private landowners reveal vast inequalities in land access, as well as the rapid growth in the demand for indigenous labor to produce important agrarian commodities. We argue that Spanish administrative policies accelerated the transformation of the means of production in rural Cuzco, creating peasants instead of Christian Indian subjects.
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