Rock Salt Mining in San Pedro de Atacama, Northern Chile, during the 20th Century: Protoindustrialization or Industrialization in the Periphery?
Author(s): Flora Vilches
Rock salt exploitation in the oases of San Pedro de Atacama is one among many expressions of capitalist expansion in Latin America. Except for mining concessions, historical documentation of these practices is virtually nonexistent, although material remains and former actors in the mining process still survive. In this paper, we present archaeological evidence of rock salt mining sites of different scale and kind of exploitation that coexist throughout the 20th century. Such differences show how the capitalist expansion in the area was not a homogenous process, ranging from artisan to industrialized exploitation. The local indigenous population was associated with both. While they participated in all aspects of the former blending traditional ways of production and new patterns of consumption, they were wage laborers of newcomer businessmen both indigenous and non-indigenous in the latter. This might explain why salt mining does not play a significant role in current Atacameño identity processes.
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Rock Salt Mining in San Pedro de Atacama, Northern Chile, during the 20th Century: Protoindustrialization or Industrialization in the Periphery?. Flora Vilches. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 433857)
20th century (1920s - 1980s)
min long: -75.705; min lat: -55.791 ; max long: -67.001; max lat: -17.505 ;