chapter  9
10 Pages

Conclusions: earth, water, fleece and fabric

In this book, I have explored some of the historical particularities in the relationships negotiated between herders and their herd animals in the Andes. The method used was to juxtapose different aspects of a herding way of life in order to bring into focus certain trajectories through time. I fully recognize that the quality of the information differs in the two main historically located junctures studied here: the Purifica and Tulan Quebradas between five thousand and one thousand five hundred years ago, and Isluga in the 1980s and 1990s. Obviously, the ethnographic material from Isluga is much more fine-grained than a study based on the material culture of archaeological societies allows. Nevertheless, I have taken a long-term view of the relationships established and maintained between herd animals and human beings in this study of the exploitation of a renewable resource: fleece. The social relations that characterize the societies studied here involve the assumption of responsibility by human owners over their herd animals. In conventional terms, these social relations arise from a pastoral way of life. Pastoral societies began to co-exist with hunting and gathering societies in the Late Archaic period (over four thousand years ago) in arid and highland areas of the South-Central Andes.