In Pursuit of the Sacred: Understanding Inka Colonialism in the Andes
The Inka Empire, or Tawantinsuyu, was the largest ancient empire in the Americas. During the fifteenth century and the first decades of the sixteenth century, the Inkas managed to conquer vast regions of the South American Andes, subduing a variety of groups and polities. But the Inkas did not expand their realm for the sole purpose of extracting resources and accumulating wealth. To various degrees, they developed a colonial project that aimed at reshaping the political, economic, cultural and religious institutions and practices of the colonized. There is no doubt that Inka colonialism involved, among other things, corvée labour, the strategic relocation of people(s) and the exploitation and production of staple crops and luxury goods. Nevertheless, we argue in this paper that, above all, the Inkas expanded into the Andean region to meet and relate to the Sacred. Inka expansionism was a sort of religious quest through which the Inkas built up their authority and legitimized their rule.