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Minerals, Collecting, and Value across the US-Mexico Border

Elizabeth Emma Ferry

Publication Year: 2013

Elizabeth Emma Ferry traces the movement of minerals as they circulate from Mexican mines to markets, museums, and private collections. She describes how and why these byproducts of ore mining come to be valued by people in various walks of life as scientific specimens, religious offerings, and luxury collectibles. The story of mineral exploration and trade defines a rich and variegated US-Mexican space and sheds new light on this complex relationship.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Tracking Globalization


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p. 1-1

Minerals, Collecting, and Value Across The U.S.-Mexico Border

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pp. 2-3


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p. 4-4


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p. 5-5


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pp. 6-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

So many people have helped me with this project, it is hard even to know where to begin. However, I will start in Guanajuato, where I first got the idea from seeing miners sell minerals, use them as religious offerings, and give them as gifts. My particular thanks go to Cirilo Palacios and his family, Pancho and Domingo Granados, ...

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Introduction: Making Value and U.S.-Mexican Space

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pp. 1-27

This book traces the movements of minerals—discrete bits of the earth’s crust like the ones commemorated in two series of postage stamps issued in the United States and Mexico (figures 0.1 and 0.2)—as they circulate from Mexican mines through markets and museums in Mexico and the United States. ...

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1. Histories, Mineralogies, Economies

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pp. 28-55

Mexican mineral specimens are surrounded by webs of transactions in which the minerals, museums and other institutions, and U.S. and Mexican miners, dealers, collectors, curators, and scientists all participate. It is impossible to draw clear boundaries between Mexican mineral collecting and mineralogy and the mineral collecting and mineralogy that goes on in other places. ...

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2. Shifting Stones: Mineralogy and Mineral Collecting in Mexico and the United States

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pp. 56-84

Value—the process of rating things as meaningfully different—only works as a generative, dynamic force because it is embedded within a similar process at a different categorical scale, where people judge the criteria by which objects should be judged to differ in significant ways—such as privileging rarity as a valuable quality for minerals. ...

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3. Making Scientific Value

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pp. 85-112

In most instances, the relevance of the concept of value to understanding uses of minerals seems obvious. Minerals are often exchanged as commodities and mined as the main objects or the by-products of extractive industries; in these areas, their economic character is immediately evident. ...

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4. Mineral Collections and Their Minerals: Building Up U.S.-Mexican Transnational Spaces

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pp. 113-136

Mineral collections—intentionally assembled groups of minerals held out of economic exchange and manifesting exemplarity, aesthetics, or some other value—are sites where interactions and transactions between Mexico and the United States are especially densely clustered. ...

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5. Making Places in Space: Miners and Collectors in Guanajuato and Tucson

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pp. 137-162

Figure 5.1, a map featured in a report titled Potencial Minero de Guanajuato (Franco 1997) shows Guanajuato’s centrality in Mexico, in particular the fact that over 60 percent of the country’s population lives within a 350-kilometer radius (thus implying the density of infrastructure and services). ...

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6. Mineral Marketplaces, Arbitrage, and the Production of Difference

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pp. 163-193

In November 1977, a prospector named Felix Esquivel entered the Ojuela mine in Mapimí, Durango, Mexico, and discovered a pocket of over twenty specimens of legrandite (a zinc arsenate). He and his brother sold them to a dealer, Jack Amsbury, via his Mexican agent Shorty Bonilla, for 48,000 old pesos, or approximately $4,000. ...

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pp. 194-198

In the spring of 1998, as we were preparing to return to the United States after twenty months of fieldwork, my husband and I gave a party at our house to say good-bye to our neighbors and friends. We rented chairs and a tent, hired a band, and engaged our neighbor and friend Paco to kill a pig and make carnitas. ...

Appendix: Sources and Methods

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pp. 199-200


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pp. 201-210


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pp. 211-228


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pp. 229-235

E-ISBN-13: 9780253009487
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253009289

Page Count: 252
Illustrations: 27 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Tracking Globalization