Unless otherwise indicated, all OI books are distributed by The University of North Carolina Press.

Mining Language

Racial Thinking, Indigenous Knowledge, and Colonial Metallurgy in the Early Modern Iberian World

Allison Bigelow

Cloth: 978-1-4696-5438-6 ($39.95)

Copyright 2020
University of North Carolina Press


"Allison Bigelow approaches mining as a vernacular science, and, in doing so, she has written an innovative, original history of the Atlantic world that centers Native America and the African diaspora. This important book, as erudite as it is methodologically creative, forces us to think in new ways about the relationship between colonialism, epistemology, and race."

--Marcy Norton, University of Pennsylvania

"Allison Bigelow has mined a dizzying array of early modern Iberian manuscripts and printed texts to form a lexicon centered on four ancient Western obsessions: gold, silver, iron, and copper. She demonstrates how a seemingly esoteric language of metallurgy and mining not only hides the ugly innards of empire but also contains the keys to hidden knowledge systems. In Mining Language, the hills are alive and the rocks all but squirm and copulate, anxious to reveal their colors, tastes, and smells. You will never think of these familiar substances in the same way."

--Krise Lane, Tulane University

"Mining Language is exemplary global scholarship, tying together disparate geographies through the practice and parlance of metallurgy and extraction. Akin to an early modern alchemical experiment--refined yet highly combustible--Bigelow’s prose gleams with the languages of chroniclers, caciques, and cimarrones alike, whose amalgamated discourse described and defined a new material age."

--Neil Safier, The John Carter Brown Library