The secular impact of mining on Andean social structures and economies well justifies scholarly interest in the mining history of the region. Andean mining is also a relevant case study for testing theoretical approaches to development problems. Elizabeth Dore’s book addresses both concerns. The study is an effort to process often inaccurate numerical data on indicators of Peruvian mining production, employment, productivity, and wages. Dore achieves her objective of providing long-term quantitative information on which specialists can rely.
In chapters one and two Dore criticizes the dependency framework’s assumption of the predominant influence of foreign markets on underdeveloped nations’ export production. Her demonstration is based on simple regression analyses of the effects of world mining output and prices over domestic mining production. She concludes that fluctuations of international prices did not determine the growth or decline of mining in Peru between 1900 and 1975. Instead, the state of mining was principally affected by changes in traditional relations of production, characterized by structural problems of labor supply, wage levels, and labor productivity. This approach underestimates international market factors. Its regression results are perhaps too partial to support some of its generalizations. However, Dore’s central argument remains generally valid: external factors do not suffice to explain underdevelopment. A closer scrutiny of domestic factors and relations of production is also necessary.
Finally, chapters three to six provide a sweeping historical account which includes an evaluation of the military nationalizations of the years 1968-75. These pages are useful reading, although one cannot avoid noting the sparse use of primary sources. According to Dore, the military experiment was flawed by indebtedness and a decline in production and productivity rather than by falling copper prices. The trend was only partially redressed by new technologies and reforms that promoted profits over wages in the 1980s.