The theme for our class this time is “What is an Atlantic City?” Before I started reading the two articles, my idea of an Atlantic city was one of the cities or towns that had direct access with the Atlantic Ocean. Simple eh. When I started reading Potosi from Places of Encounter: Time, Place, and Connectivity in World History, I thought that the Peruvian city of Potosi was no Atlantic city. From some of the research and class work, I recognized Potosi more as an Pacific city than an Atlantic city. Author Jane Mangan states that silver that was mined out of the Potosi mountain would either travel up to and across the Panama isthmus to be delivered to Spain or up to Acapulco on its way to the Philippine Islands (Mangan 3). What she seems to miss is that a lions share of silver would head to China since they were basing their economy on Spanish silver. But as soon as word got out that Potosi mountain was delivering a fortune in silver to the Spanish, European powers were trying to claim their own little piece of Spain’s wealth. My colleague Matt Everett states that the Potosi mountain in European eyes achieved “mythological status.” I agree with his assessment because both Portugal and England were looking for the next great and vast deposit of precious metals (i.e. the city of El Dorado) (Mangan 10).
Some scholars would suggest that Potosi is an Atlantic city because of the influx of European people into the city and surrounding area trying to seek their fortunes (Mangan 10). While this maybe true, I think the increase of the Atlantic Slave Trade and the founding of Buenos Aires clearly connected Potosi with the Atlantic economy and world. Before Buenos Aires, slave trading in the Viceroyalty of Peru was a protracted process that was inefficient and expensive. With the founding Buenos Aires 1580, Atlantic Slave Trade established a drop off point and direct line to Potosi. Since we are talking about Atlantic cities, Ademide Adelusi Adeluyi and Liora Bigon in their article City Planning: Yoruba City Planning, states that cities were oval shaped and built themselves around a royal palace, religious centers or a market place (Adeluyi and Bigon 1316). I agree with my colleague Allison Roberts that the Yoruba had shared language, origins, and beliefs, but their historians would disregard the city-states because they were thought of as not urban as Western cities.
The one thing that links Potosi and Yoruba together is the women’s role in the economy of both cities. In Potosi, women were the makers of chicha, which is a fermented drink made from ground corn flour. Chicha was a used for ritualistic purposes but with the advent of the growing economy in Potosi, chicha become more of an commodity to be sold (Mangan 6) . In Yoruba, the markets functioned as gender spaces where the women controlled most of the facets of the economy (Adeluyi and Bigon 1318).