In this erudite and innovative study, Allison Bigelow traces the development of an early modern metallurgical lexicon that grew out of Iberian overseas encounters. Combining the methods of historical linguistics, literary and visual analysis, and archival research, Bigelow has produced an intellectual genealogy of the technology and terminology that shaped the Spanish and Portuguese colonial mining industries. In the process, she recovers the African, Amerindian, and South Asian origins of many of those ideas and practices and, just as crucially, identifies precisely how and when those influences were scrubbed from the European historical record. It is a remarkable achievement.

The book is organized around four metals that were essential to Iberian overseas expansion: gold, copper, iron, and silver. Proceeding more or less chronologically, Bigelow begins by examining Spanish gold mining in the early sixteenth-century Caribbean through texts such as Gonzalo Fernández de...

You do not currently have access to this content.