Oscar Torres is a Mexican historian of mining and industry, specializing both in ancient mining (16th century) and modern mining (20th century). He began this fellowship as a PhD candidate in history at El Colegio de México (Mexico City, Mexico).
His recently published book, Los señores del oro: producción, distribución y consumo de oro entre los mexicas (INAH, 2015), analyzes the way gold was extracted, processed, and consumed by Aztecs as raw material of insignias of power.
Oscar’s project examines the development of a sulfur industry in the oil region of Veracruz Isthmus, Mexico, and its connections with international chemical industry in the mid-20th century. It argues that the growth in global production of fertilizers, petrochemicals, and other synthetic articles in the post–World War II era stimulated the expansion of sulfur mining to Southern Mexico. In this context it shows how American investors and technicians and Mexican officials and workers adapted the infrastructure, technology, and knowledge generated by the oil industry to the characteristics of sulfur mining. It examines also the way they processed the mineral to make it competitive in a market that favored the purity and viscosity of sulfur. From the point of view of Oscar’s project, the location and material properties of minerals shape the technologies and methods used to to explore for and distribute the minerals, influence the way they circulate in the global market, and determine the modes through which they can be consumed by different industries.