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To browse Academia. Skip to main content. You're using an out-of-date version of Internet Explorer. Log In Sign Up. Ethnographies from South America. Ethnographies from South America Palgrave, This book is an open access publication. Supported by the University of Bergen. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication.
When Indigenous people discovered Spanish explorers on their coasts in the late fifteenth century, the strangers had arrived in search of precious metals and spices.
Mercantilist policies at the time sought to increase wealth and power through trade and the accumulation of gold and silver. Proselytism accompanied the extraction of natural resources and, as Europeans moved into the continent, they employed religion and force to coerce Indigenous labour. The extraction of resources, forced labour, and European colonisation created the South America we know today.
Independence and the creation of nation-states in the nineteenth cen- tury was an opportunity for people in South America to take ownership of their own resources. The Americanos, those upper-class Europeans born in the Americas who employed nativism to procure support for their wars to gain freedom from Europe, were at first unable to extract minerals because the devastating wars for political freedom had filled in mines, destroyed ports, and damaged the infrastructure.
Once the elite overcame decades of political struggle and began to turn a profit, they faced addi- tional obstacles. In sum, the nineteenth century perpetuated the extractivist legacy and challenged South American attempts to forge new economic models for their young nations. Native people again played an important role as the labour force that made extractivism during the Neocolonial Period of the late nineteenth century so lucrative for the elites who sold their raw materials, as well as for the foreigners who purchased them.