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Tulane History Professor to Discuss Technological Innovation in 16th-Century South America at Thursday’s PLACE Lecture

Published: October 16, 2017

The Program for Learning and Community Engagement (PLACE) at Texas A&M University-Texarkana will host one of the leading scholars in colonial Latin American history for a guest lecture on Thursday, Oct. 19, on the A&M-Texarkana campus at 7101 University Ave., Texarkana, Texas.

Dr. Kris Lane, France V. Scholes Professor of Colonial Latin American History at Tulane University, will present “Worth a Peru: Silver, Technological Innovation and Environmental Degradation in 16th-Century South America” at 7 p.m. in Eagle Hall of the University Center.

The free event is open to the public.

In 1545, a native Andean prospector stumbled upon the world's richest silver deposit at Potosi, Bolivia. Word of the discovery soon spread, and within decades Potosi silver reached the Middle East, South Asia and China, spurring globalization.

Still mined today, the Cerro Rico or Rich Hill of Potosi was the site of key technical innovations in the realms of silver mining, refining, and finally, coining.

Prof. Lane examines the major events and phases of Potosi's technical development as it relates to the rise of the New Science as well as its exemplary role as a major site of heavy metals contamination and deforestation.

“The story of Potosi is one of triumph and tragedy, a cautionary tale for our times,” Dr. Lane said.

Dr. Lane specializes in the colonial history of the Andes, mining, piracy and global trade. He is the recipient of the Joseph Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence, the Edwin Lieuwen Memorial Prize for Teaching from the Rocky Mountain Council of Latin American Studies, a Fulbright lecture/research fellowship and dissertation research grant.

He is the general editor of Colonial Latin American Review and served as president of the Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction from 2006 to 2008 and on the editorial board of Ethnohistory from 2002 to 2006.
He also is the author of a number of publications, including "Gone Platinum: Contraband and Chemistry in 18th-Century Colombia," which appeared in the Colonial Latin American Review in 2011.

“I am very excited to have such a prominent historian come to talk at A&M-Texarkana,” said Dr. Michael Perri of the A&M-Texarkana History department. “This is a great opportunity to learn about the mountain of silver that was Potosí. Yielding upwards of 150,000 kilograms of silver per year in the 17th century, Potosí was an important mine that significantly increased the world’s supply of silver. The upsurge of silver currency, consequently, contributed to the expansion of world trade. Examining the science of mining that occurred at Potosí, as well as the ecological degradation that took place, Dr. Lane will inform the Texarkana community about an important, albeit little known, area of Latin American history.”

PLACE is a faculty-led program designed to create a community of learners comprising A&M-Texarkana students, faculty, staff and the community at large. PLACE chooses an annual theme around which to organize a lecture series and other activities that provide focal points for learning and discussion. This year’s theme is “Science and Technology.”

For more information or to participate in the showcase, contact Dr. Corrine Hinton, PLACE chair, at Corrine.Hinton@tamut.edu and visit the PLACE website at http://tamut.edu/PLACE.

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