Smoldering Ashes by Charles F. Walker
The Tupac Amaru uprising from 1780-1783 was a turning point in colonial South America. Although unsuccessful in accomplishing its defined purpose, it marked a major shift in colonial Spanish-Indian relations, and was the antecedent to the expulsion of the Spanish some forty years after the rebellion failed. But what was the end goal of the rebellion? Scholars have been perplexed for years about the true purpose of this revolt, acknowledging “The Tupac Amaru uprising almost immediately surpassed the boundaries of the more typical revolt” (pg. 21). This paper will discuss the purpose of the Tupac Amaru uprising, why it failed, and its effects.
Scholars have suggested a number of causes for the rebellion: a.
Political independence. Many rebellions throughout history have been provoked by a lack of sovereignty and the search for political independence, usually in the form of a republic. However, this cannot be assumed with the Tupac Amaru movement—the rebellion did not call for freedom from Spain or the creation of an independent republic. b.
An effort to resurrect the Incan Empire. “Although the neo-Inca revival is an important factor in the movement’s ideology and timing, it alone is not a sufficient explanation” (pg. 20). c.
To retain traditional relations rather than overthrow the Spanish-ruled state. This interpretation is contradicted by the rebels’ actions—“they had ‘undeniable anti-colonial intentions’” (pg. 21). “The eighteenth-century Andean rebellions should not be framed, therefore, solely as failed antecedents to independence movements akin to other mass insurgencies of the Enlightenment era, or as backward-looking restorationist projects, or as more, albeit grandiose, revolts” (pg. 21).
What, then, was/were the true goal(s) of the Tupac Amaru rebellion? Tupac Amaru’s goals were to cast off the Europeans (pg. 16), and to “demolish Bourbon colonialism” (pg. 17). Amaru did not just want independence from the...
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