Abstract: In Peru, the late 19th century saw a growth in state-sponsored investigation into the country's subsoil resources, as leaders came to view these scientific endeavors as key for stimulating economic development and forging a modern territorial nation-state. This talk examines the technoscientific practices through which late-19th-century scientists worked to incorporate the Peruvian underground into political and economic life, focusing on the mineral science of the Italian-born naturalist Antonio Raimondi. I bring to light a dialectic of differentiation and dedifferentiation in Raimondi's mineralogical work. In particular, I draw attention to how Raimondi's portrayal of Peruvian national territory as uniquely abundant in minerals coincided with a more fundamental dedifferentiation of the Peruvian underground in which the minerals contained therein were presented as ontologically the same as those in other parts of the world, and thus knowable through a common epistemological framework and standardized forms of analysis and calculation. I further contend that while there were limitations to the economic utility of Raimondi's mineral science, this work played an important role in the historical-geographical development of Peru's mining industry. In particular, this work contributed to an imaginary of Peruvian national territory as three-dimensional, mineral-rich, and under-exploited - an imaginary that since the time of Raimondi has been recurrently mobilized to promote and to naturalize the exploitation of the country's subsoil.
(Refreshments provided at 3:15 p.m. in Student Building 018)