Over time, man has expended considerable energy modifying his physical and natural surroundings in order to extract wealth, to facilitate his existence, and to change the context and aspirations of his society. He and his culture, in turn, have been changed as well. At any particular juncture, when we stop and record those changes, when we snap a photo or write a story of that moment in time, we can observe how an individual or a society has fared in the process. In this issue of Americas we examine some of those exchanges.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the silver mined from the Cerro Rico in Potosi made Spanish currency the common coinage throughout the Orient, sparking commercial and industrial revolutions in Europe. Today, as Stephen Ferry's photo diary vividly shows us, miners still scrape a bare existence from the same mountain, sustained, yet trapped, by its epic past.
But it is environmental pressure and change that underlie Jeffrey Cohn's story of recent multinational efforts to rescue endangered black-footed ferrets--once home on the U.S. Great Plains--by transporting and releasing them in the grasslands of Chihuahua, Mexico.
At the turn of the last century, some two hundred cooperative agricultural communities of European Jews were established on the pampas of...