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The Three Deaths of Cerro de San Pedro

Four Centuries of Extractivism in a Small Mexican Mining Town

Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert

Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Imprint: The University of North Carolina Press
Published: 12/2022
Pages: 324
Subject: Social Science, History, Science
Print ISBN: 9781469671093
eBook ISBN: 9781469671123


This is a history of precious-metals extractivism as lived in Cerro de San Pedro, a small gold- and silver-mining district in Mexico. Chronicling Cerro de San Pedro's operations from the time of the Spanish conquest to the present, Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert transcends standard narratives of boom and bust to envision a multicentury series of mining cycles, first operated under Spanish rule, then by North American industry, and today in the post-NAFTA world of transnational capitalism. The depletion of a mine did not mark the end of its life, it turns out.

Evolving technology accelerated the flow of matter and energy moving through the extractive systems of exhausted mines and revived profitability over and over again in Mexico's mining districts. Studnicki-Gizbert demonstrates how this serial reanimation of a non-renewable resource was catalyzed by capital and supported by state policy and ideology and how each new cycle imposed ever more harmful consequences on both laborers and natural ecologies. At the same time, however, miners and their communities pursued a contending vision—a moral ecology—that defended the healthy reproduction of life and land. This book's breathtakingly long view brings important perspective to environmental justice conflicts around extraction in Latin America today.