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Vol. 11 No. i (2023): Spring 2023

History of the Mines of Potosi Retold: The Continuation of Colonialism in the Present

January 18, 2024


The following article navigates the broad strokes of Bolivia’s history since the 16th century, using the mines and miners of Potosí as the focal points for the research. The cultural and political systems that have arisen around Bolivia’s miners exemplify larger trends that are visible in Bolivia’s development up until the present. This article will argue that a colonial presence has not left Bolivia since its
independence but has instead manifested itself through foreign intervention and the imposition of free-market economic policies. The consequences of these neocolonial influences include, the rise and persistence of acute poverty, inhumane working conditions, and the structuring of a hierarchy between Bolivia and what are considered “western” countries. The following research undermines this buffer between the past and the present and demonstrates that nations, its people, and our perspectives are shaped by our histories. Analysis of historical written and visual documents, oral histories, interviews, and statistics are used in order to provide a detailed and in-depth perspective.