How a 16th-Century Bolivian Silver Mine Invented Modern Capitalism

Potosí’s Coins Ruled the Globe But Their Costs Included Violence and Environmental Destruction

Gold has always attracted special attention for its color, malleability, and resistance to oxidation, but silver has long held a close second place. Its relative abundance in relation to gold and its relative rarity in relation to metals such as copper made it ideal for global coinage. Silver was a metal that crossed international boundaries in compact but stout units, always welcome in settling accounts.

In early modern times, and really up until the 20th century, one could argue that silver, not gold, was the precious metal that ruled the …

How Movies and TV Are Helping Venezuelans Negotiate Their Country’s Collapse

Amid Food Shortages and Rising Crime, My Students Turn to The Hunger Games and Walking Dead

Last March, I was teaching twice a week at the Universidad Bicentenaria de Aragua, 75 miles west of Caracas, Venezuela. While protests were breaking out in the streets around the …

What the Path of Curry Tells Us About Globalization

Courtesy of the British Empire, the Spice Was Used to Pay Indian Workers Brought to South America to Replace African Slaves

One Sunday morning in 1993, “Bushman,” “Spider,” “Tall Boy,” and “Crab Dog” were gathered at a rum shop in the Guyanese coastal village of Mahaica. The rainy season had driven …

The Story Behind Colombia’s October Surprise

Why the South American Nation's Peace Plebiscite Became a Self-Defeating Prophecy

Everything about Colombia’s plebiscite for peace was unexpected.

Not just the dramatic result—a rejection of the peace deal between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that …

Bogotá, My Home Away From Home

I Began My Trip to Colombia as a Teen Feeling Lost, and Ended With a New Sense of Belonging in the World

After finishing seventh grade, I found myself at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, where my mother put me on a plane headed to Bogotá, Colombia.

It wasn’t as …

Will We Fracture the Internet?

Unless We Curb Our Addiction to Surveillance and Secret Hacking, We Might Not Have a Choice

Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff’s recent indictment of the United States’ cyber-spying practices has profound global repercussions for the U.S. vision of a borderless, open Internet.

What makes this backlash especially potent …