Potosi's Silver and the Global World of Trade (Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries)

Research output: Chapter in book/volumeChapterProfessional


This article tries to transcend the methodological nationalism criticized by Van der Linden and to connect the spheres of production in Potosi, in the heart of South America, with the spheres of circulation there and beyond the seas, in Europe and in Asia. A first part tries to explain very briefly how silver lost its pre-eminence and visibility, showing the switch from the framework analysis of dependency theories to the great divergences debates. A second part summaries the estimates of silver flows, their cycles and the role of Potosi. A third part reconstructs the different routes and trade of silver from America to Spain and Europe but also the routes to the Middle East or Asia through Africa. The fourth and final part recapitulates the labor relationships in Potosí, showing the coexistence and articulations between unfree, free and self-employed peoples as a result of colonial coercion but also of the agency of workers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOn the Road to Global Labour History
Subtitle of host publicationA festschrift for Marcel van der Linden
EditorsKarl Heiz Roth
Place of PublicationLeiden, Boston
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Silver
  • Mining
  • Trade
  • VOC
  • Global labour history

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