Rosenthal investigates Colombia's salt trade in book

The emerging Colombian nation-state in the 19th century and the central government’s interaction with business and society in a provincial center of Colombia’s salt trade provide the theme for the new book by Dr. Joshua Rosenthal, associate professor and cochair of the department of history and non-Western cultures. “Salt and the Colombian State: Local Society and Regional Monopoly in Boyaca, 1821-1900” was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press for release in January 2012.

Rosenthal’s “Salt and the Colombian State” represents the culmination of extensive research of archival records in the South American nation that began more than a decade ago during work on his dissertation at Columbia University, where he earned a Ph.D. in history in 2001. His search of government documents, correspondence, newspapers, and other written and printed records in the National Archive of Colombia in Bogota focused on the village of La Salina de Chita, whose thermal springs made it a center for salt production during the 19th century. His research exploring the organization, regulation and taxation of salt extraction and trade in this small village in the country’s eastern highlands offered a window for understanding the dynamics and evolution of citizen relations with the Colombian state during the nation’s first century of independence.

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Digging Deeper

Dr. Joshua Rosenthal found that a rich tapestry revealing the evolving relationship of the Colombian state with the people of La Salina de Chita emerged from his research of hundreds of thousands of documents from the period, including government reports, business accounting records, newspapers, correspondence and even scrawled personal notes.