María C. Gaztambide
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. Please check back later for the full article.
Documents of 20th-Century Latin American and Latino Art: A Digital Archive and Publications Project at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is a multiyear initiative at the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA) that seeks to consolidate Latin American and Latino art as a field of study and to place it on equal footing with other established aesthetic traditions. It encompasses the recovery, translation into English, and publication of primary texts by Latin American and Latino artists, critics, and curators who have played a fundamental role in the development of modern and contemporary art in their countries or communities. The Documents Project makes these essential bibliographic materials available worldwide through a digital archive and a series of fully annotated book anthologies published in English. It is facilitating new historical scholarship on twentieth-century Latin American and Latino art through its open-ended editorial framework, which centers on thematic rather than more traditional chronological guidelines, and through its broadening the discourse on the modern and contemporary art produced along this cultural axis. A discussion and contextualization of a selection of recovered documents specifically from Latin America supports this central argument. These and other little-known or previously inaccessible primary sources and critical materials will ultimately encourage interdisciplinary and transnational (re)readings of how aesthetics, social issues, and artistic tendencies have been contested and developed in the region.
Felipe Morales Leal and Lourdes Roca
The Laboratorio Audiovisual de Investigación Social (Social Research Audiovisual Lab, or LAIS) at the Instituto Mora in Mexico has worked in both audiovisual production and the study of the visual world in which we live today. Constructing research sources from photographic images and audiovisual materials constitutes its fundamental purpose. Research methodologies that incorporate images are its plan of action and reflection, and along with the ongoing construction of alternatives, they are put into practice in diverse types of products that result in human resource training with specialized courses and workshops.
With the ultimate goal of promoting research that uses and disseminates images and audiovisual materials, LAIS has numerous research documentaries in its collection, a Website with photographic libraries, projects with an array of public interest products, publications in both digital and print format, and information technology development for the online publication of research tools, as well as specialized workshops and courses on the subject. An important reference at the Latin American level for years, the Instituto Mora’s Social Research Audiovisual Lab drives the expansion of each of these resources.
Mesoamerica is a culture zone that stretches geographically from approximately north-central Mexico into the northwestern half of Central America. Human occupation of this region dates back thousands of years. The end of the Post-Classic Period (c. 1519) is marked by the invasion of the region by Europeans, who were looking to extract goods, services, and taxes from the Mesoamerican peoples. Spanish occupation stretched into the early 19th century. Neocolonial Mesoamerica, of the 19th and 20th centuries, came to experience increasing influences from the United States, Britain, Germany, and other external powers. The past two centuries have also been marked by a continuing local control by a minority, Euro-originating elite over a majority, indigenous population, even as what we once knew as Mesoamerica faded from view. The division between these ethnicities has grown somewhat less clear as a result of the increasing mixed-heritage mestizo or ladino population across the region. Authoritarian regimes marked much of the 20th century, and civilian rule (still without much or any indigenous participation) came at the end of that century, continuing up to the present. But police and military authorities remain present, concerned with internal dissent and unrest at least as much as external threats.
For the present purposes, Digital Mesoamerica has as its focus the region’s indigenous cultures and their histories. Shared cultural traits in the pre-contact era—such as the calendars, glyphic writing, the ball court, human sacrifice, certain legends and religious beliefs, agricultural methods, art, and technologies—set off the many peoples of Mesoamerica from other parts of the Americas. The history of the culture zone is rich for exploring the rise of civilizations, social, economic, and political systems, gender ideologies and practices, religions, land tenure and agricultural systems, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, calendrics, and language diversity (among many other themes). Colonization and its dimensions—such as the impact of epidemic disease, the nature of hybrid religions, evolving tribute and labor systems, struggles over land, efforts to defend some measure of local autonomy, and more—is another arena of great scholarly interest. Contemporary studies are marked by human rights and cultural survival issues, ethnography, mining and other environmental crises, and fair trade, among many other topics.
The most popular and numerous digital resources supporting research and teaching related to Mesoamerican cultures and their histories tend to center on indigenous-authored manuscripts and maps, some of them pre-contact and most of them colonial. These sources are located primarily in Mexican, Guatemalan, U.S., and European repositories, where institutional funds are supporting the creation of open-access digital collections of such materials, along with audio demonstrating language use, videos of all kinds, educational units, and photographs of three-dimensional cultural heritage materials. We are also witnessing moves toward the aggregation of digital content across multiple repositories, such as we see with the World Digital Library, the Internet Archive, and the Getty Research Portal, among others, which increasingly represent Mesoamerica along with other regions of the world. Individuals are also submitting their full-text publications to such aggregators as Academia.edu, announcing their public talks and publications on listservs, Twitter, and Facebook pages, or creating their own robust, one-of-a-kind Web-based projects (with funding from host institutions or national endowments).
Researchers in major Mexico City archives in the early 1970s had access to very few finding aids for historical documents and record sets. Since then, archivists and researchers have worked diligently to organize record sets and create catalogues for an untold number of documents. Since the early twenty-first century, researchers in the Archivo General de la Nación, the Archivo Histórico de la Ciudad de México, the Archivo Histórico del Arzobispado de México, the Archivo Histórico de la Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, and the Archivo General de Notarías have been able to access databases, searchable PDF catalogues, and a small array of digital collections.
Work toward inventorying and cataloguing record sets began long before the development of technologies available today. Typescript catalogues for record sets in the Archivo Histórico de la Ciudad de México date from the 1920s. Work on inventories, card catalogues, typescripts, and published catalogues for record sets in the Archivo General de la Nación and the Archivo Histórico de la Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional began during the 1930s and 1940s. Work on cataloguing the documents in the Archivo General de Notarías and the Archivo Histórico del Arzobispado de México began during the 1980s and 1990s. Since the early twenty-first century researchers have been able to access databases, searchable PDF catalogues, and a limited number of digitized documents for all these major archives.
New technologies began to make digitization possible, and thus Mexican libraries, along with archives, began to digitize primary and secondary sources. Some of those projects involve digitizing microfilm; others involve digitizing complete record sets and printed books. Still others involve transcriptions of historical documents. While the scope and quality of those projects vary from institution to institution, all create heretofore unimaginable access to historical documents.
Launched in 1997,
Between 1997 and 2006, the Website grew exponentially, but like many of its early counterparts, the site’s utility and navigability ultimately suffered as a result of the rapid development of new software and the obsolescence of existing digital platforms; searches became sluggish and unwieldy. While visitorship remained high for an academic site—over a million unique visitors a year—a 2012 survey indicated that scholars frequented only known parts of the site while novice users spent as little as a few minutes on the site. The global economic crisis of 2008 destabilized FAMSI’s funding, and in 2010 the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) assumed stewardship of the foundation as well as the Website. The museum began to maintain and review
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. Please check back later for the full article.
The research project Women and Independence in Latin America seeks to investigate and understand women’s involvement in the struggles to achieve political independence in Spanish America and Brazil during the nineteenth century. The project is hosted at the University of Nottingham, in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, and it was funded by the University of Nottingham and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) between 2001 and 2014. The aim is to stimulate research and debate on the involvement of women in the Wars of Independence against Spain and in the conflicts with Portugal, and in the independence process more generally. This aspect of women’s history was much neglected but since the bicentenaries of independence in 2010 it has become a major topic of public debate and academic research.
The resource aims to provide a tool for historical research while also reaching out to encourage the exchange of ideas and information among a broader community and to make connections between the lives and aspirations of Latin American women in the nineteenth century and those of Latin American women today. The results of the project so far include numerous publications in academic presses and journals, several public events and collaborations with non-academic partners, and a bank of open online resources.
The most useful resource for historians is the online map-based searchable database and image bank (“Las Mujeres y la Independencia en América Latina”). The database includes information on the lives of more than 4,000 people (3,000 women) who were involved in the Wars of Independence in Spanish America and the conflicts in Brazil in the first half of the nineteenth century. The database is searchable by name, place, date, allegiance, gender, ethnicity, or event. The events include, for example, born, married, died, executed, fought, rewarded, imprisoned, and so on. A particularly interesting search category from the point of view of historians is connections. Connections includes groups of women who are related to each other in various ways, for example, prominent extended families, female relatives of men who were executed, women who donated property to the cause of their choice, women who hosted salons or “tertulias,” and women who were active in cultural societies and networks. The resource includes 340 images of men and women involved in the conflicts and a list of the historiographical and archival materials used in the compilation of the database. A simplified introductory version of the searchable database, Heroines and Heroes in Latin American Independence, is provided for use with school children and students.
The Getty Research Institute (GRI) has an extensive collection of online digital resources, with two portals that focus on Mexico. The first portal discussed in this article is A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico, and the second portal discussed is Obsidian Mirror-Travels: Refracting Mexican Art and Archaeology. These portals are the online versions of GRI exhibitions. Viewers of A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico will find numerous primary sources, mostly photographs, related to major historical events from 1857 to 1923. This will serve as a useful resource for scholars and students interested in photohistory. The online exhibition Obsidian Mirror-Travels: Refracting Mexican Art and Archaeology offers a wealth of online digitized images related to Aztec art, culture, and archaeology.
Although A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico contains superb resources, the site is difficult to navigate and can result in viewers missing much of what it offers. Therefore, this article provides a road map of sorts with the goal of helping scholars and students save valuable time during the research process. This guide will greatly streamline the user experience for those navigating A Nation Emerges: Sixty-five Years of Photography in Mexico. In fact, readers may want to consider having access to this article while they are navigating the particular portal.
On the other hand, viewers will find Obsidian Mirror-Travels: Refracting Mexican Art and Archaeology much easier to navigate. As such, a general overview, rather than a detailed guide is provided for this portal to allow users to direct their research with efficiency and accuracy when navigating the site.
The article concludes with a brief discussion in the “Digitized Resources” section, of the literature, methodology, and historiography of photohistory.
HAPI began as a local project at Arizona State University (ASU) in 1973. Its founder, Barbara G. Valk, the librarian responsible for Latin American materials at ASU, wanted to provide an index to the university’s periodical literature on the region, which was something that had been unavailable since the cessation of the OAS-sponsored Index to Latin American Periodicals in 1970. Following the success of the project, HAPI moved to the UCLA Latin American Center (now Latin American Institute) in 1976, where Valk used a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund further development of an annual printed edition of the index. This annual volume would continue to be published through 2008. HAPI was first searchable online via Telnet in 1991 and CD-ROM in 1992; its first website debuted in 1997. Now exclusively available online, HAPI is a self-supporting, not-for-profit publishing unit within UCLA, with subscribers (primarily university and college libraries) around the world. Free subscriptions are provided to institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean.
HAPI now contains over 300,000 citations to journal articles about Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latina/os in the United States and around the world. Articles date back to 1968 following an early retrospective indexing project to cover the gap between the last volume of the Index to Latin American Periodicals and the first volume of HAPI. Almost 400 journal titles are currently indexed and over 600 titles have been included since HAPI’s creation. Subject coverage includes the social sciences and the humanities; history titles represent the largest single subject area covered. HAPI aims to provide access to the most well-known and influential titles in Latin American studies as well as to regional titles that are less well known and often underrepresented in disciplinary indexes with limited Latin American and Caribbean content. Librarians (staff and volunteers) with relevant subject training examine each article and create bibliographic descriptions, subject headings, and keywords for multiple access points to the journal content. Searches can be carried out in English, Spanish, or Portuguese on HAPI’s trilingual website.
HAPI has provided links to the online full-text content of many of its indexed titles since 2003. At that time, with university and college libraries spending heavily on commercial databases, students and scholars were increasingly expecting easy access to the full text of journal articles, but few Latin American and Caribbean journals were included in these commercial products. With limited financial and technological resources, HAPI was unable to become a full-text publisher; instead, HAPI staff focused on tracking down and linking to the full text of the indexed journals wherever they could find it, especially in two Open Access regional databases: Mexico’s
Digital Resources: LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, University of Texas at Austin
LLILAS Benson maintains one of the world’s largest collections of digital assets designed to support Latin American studies. These vast digital holdings, all of which reside on open-source platforms and are freely available to a global audience via the Internet, trace their roots back to the early 1990s, before the advent of the World Wide Web. Since that time, LLILAS Benson has forged partnerships with a broad array of researchers and content producers throughout the Americas in order to bring vital Latin American studies content online while at the same time helping to build local capacity in areas such as digitization, metadata, and preservation throughout the region. These digital collections include materials useful to scholars in a broad array of disciplines, particularly in the humanities and social sciences.
One of the main strengths of the collections is in the area of archival and historical sources, with extensive digitized materials spanning more than five centuries and all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The digital collections are particularly strong in terms of Mexican history. Major holdings in the digital collections that include material of interest to those conducting historical research are the following:
Collectively, the LLILAS Benson portfolio of digital initiatives includes more than ten million pages of digitized archival records; several hundred thousand pages of digitized full text and images, including monographs, journals, scholarly papers, manuscripts, ephemera, and so on; thousands of hours of digital audio and video recordings; and more than a hundred million Web-archived files. The collection of curated resource guides for Latin American studies contains more than ten thousand outbound links. Taken as a whole, the Websites holding these digital assets generate more than three million pageviews per year. The vast majority of the digital holdings consist of unique items, thus filling an important void for scholarship left by mass digitization efforts, such as Google Books and the Internet Archive’s Million Books Project.
LLILAS Benson is committed to promoting open access to scholarly resources. In contrast to the unique digitized materials hosted by database vendors and aggregators, such as Gale’s “World Scholar Archive: Latin America and the Caribbean” or EBSCO’s “Academic Search Complete,” nearly all the digital content that LLILAS Benson hosts is on the open Internet, available to any and all users regardless of location or affiliation, and without any type of registration. The one exception is AILLA, where no-cost registration is required to open or download media files.
Since 1982 there have been at least 2,000 massacres in Colombia committed by different illegal groups and by members of the Colombian army and police. The development of the conflict in Colombia has a direct relation with the causes and consequences of these crimes, perpetrated in most cases by paramilitary armies, associated to varying degrees with the cocaine trade. Paramilitary groups were a counterinsurgency force organized by the State, or independent, and supported economically by drug cartels and some landowners and businessmen.
Although guerrilla armies, insurgency, and communist groups created mostly in the 1960s perpetrated several massacres, these crimes were systematically used primarily by paramilitary groups to terrorize people in places where they had a particular interest, such as drug trafficking or vying for political power. In its book ¡Basta ya!, the Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica has documented that 59% of the massacres were committed by paramilitary groups and 17% by guerrillas.
Rutas del Conflicto is a project created by journalists that marks the evolution of these groups through more than 30 years of war. Using mapping and timeline tools developed especially for the project, it has documented more than 700 of these crimes, displaying the degree to which the tragedy has affected the lives of millions of people in Colombia.