The Iterated Mountain: Things as Signs in Potosí

Thomas A. Abercrombie

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Miners of the iconic "Rich Mountain" of  Potosí (itself part of a UNESCO patrimony site and central figure of the nation's seal and coinage) are participants in global capitalism at its exploitative, extractive end. Along with images of the devil at mine tunnel shrines, and saints images from shrines outside mine entrances, miners are also participants in the "spiritual" economy of distributed agency that locally sustains the production and movement of minerals and money, and motivates a major folkloric festival that is itself a candidate for patrimonial status. The article strives to use material linguistics (i.e., Peirce) to think through the ways that gigantic, body-sized, and miniature things work as material signs within webs of social and material interaction. It thus offers a counterpoint to theoretical strategies that follow, rather than question, the body/mind, matter/spirit dualism of both colonial Christianity and science (including anthropological theory and the "ontological turn"). [Andes, Bolivia, colonialism/postcolonial studies, indigenous peoples, mining, semiotic ideology].

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)83-108
    Number of pages26
    JournalJournal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anthropology


    Dive into the research topics of 'The Iterated Mountain: Things as Signs in Potosí'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this