The Land is the Laboratory: Indigenous Labor, Land Inspections and the Engineering of the Colonial Andes


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




“The Land is the Laboratory" is a study of how, in the documentary genre known as “visitas” (land inspections), Spanish colonial inspectors and Andean Indigenous peasants engaged in the task of transforming qualitative, in-person observation into quantitative, paper-based information during the early colonial period. It emphasizes how Andean communities produced information about their natural resources, labor practices, and local population. This project engages in an interdisciplinary interrogation of knowledge production, including the history of science and technology, indigenous studies, the new history of capitalism, and the history of state formation in Latin America. This dissertation expands into visualization and data analysis with digital mapping and builds its theoretical and methodological framework as a result of interactions with peasant communities who engage in experimentation with crops.