Karin Amundsen

Karin AmundsenNEH Postdoctoral Fellow (2019–2021)

As the 2019-2021 OI-NEH Fellow, my goal is to produce a revised draft of my book by the end of the fellowship period. Precious Perils analyzes alchemy and metallurgy’s role in stimulating and defining English colonization in the Atlantic World between Martin Frobisher’s Arctic voyages (1576-78) and the 1624 demise of the Virginia Company. English colonial projectors sought to acquire gold, silver, copper, and iron in the Americas to address monetary shortages, trade imbalances with continental Europe, growing demand for munitions, and to restore social and religious harmony. They likewise turned to alchemical philosophy to grant an eschatological significance to conquering and civilizing indigenous peoples, and to rationalize imperialism as necessary to domestic reforms. In establishing that the pursuit of mines was rational, if premature, my manuscript recovers a critical yet under-appreciated ideological and technical aspect of early English colonization.