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Article

Ian Kisil Marino, Pedro Telles da Silveira, and Thiago Lima Nicodemo

The category of “informal archives” was initially proposed by Adam Auerbach in a case study on the role of informal archives held by social leaders of peripheral communities in India. “Informal archives” imply forms of historical documentation beyond state authority, and preserved in a rough, poor, and ephemeral manner (in the digital realm). They typically involve connections to the past articulated by different social demands, whether regarding the dispute for a national memory in the digital-public realm, or the nostalgic nature of certain connections to the past, or even the social/political activism of civil society organizations. For this reason, informal archives are in unmapped locations, and in order to be accessed they need to be ethnographically reached. An empirical research based on data raised in early 2020 shows that, even with the creation of a theoretical basis for this kind of digital resource, constant updates will remain necessary due to the unstable nature of the subject.

Article

Eliana Regina de Freitas Dutra and Renato Pinto Venancio

The en masse digitalization of sets of documents held by memory institutions in Brazil and the promotion of remote access to them has impacted the writing and the reinterpretation of Brazilian history and historiography in different dominions. In Brazil, at the national and regional levels, there are numerous academies, libraries, foundations, museums, institutions, and centers of documentation which preserve and are progressively making various—and often meaningful—collections available online to scholars and researchers in the area of intellectual history. Taking into account the quantity and diversity of these collections, already available on the Internet, and the impossibility of elaborating an exhaustive inventory, it was decided to present a sample of institutions of diverse natures which hold expressive sets of collections with online access, whether in their totality or significant parts of them. This option was complemented by the no less important listing of the collection of a foreign university library, as well as the listing of various other digital addresses considered useful for the knowledge of researchers. It is also worth mentioning that the selected sites not only contain significant digitalized sets of documents but also allow free and unrestricted access, through online research instruments.

Article

The Digital Gender Collections at the Rosario Castellanos Library in the Center for Research and Study of Gender at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México provides search engines to access digital collections of books, articles, videos, contemporary feminist magazines, and biographies of Mexican feminists. The collection holds hard-to-access materials and provides scholars outside of Mexico with a means to engage in Mexico- and Latin America-based scholarship and historical documents. The biographies of Mexican feminists, while not peer reviewed, provide a starting point to orient users to Mexican women’s history. The library also holds digitalized copies of feminist magazines established in the 1970s, which will be of interest to researchers and may be useful for teaching the history of second-wave feminism. All documents are in Spanish. Many of the resources, though not all, are accessible online.

Article

Across the last 25 years, digital projects on the visual culture of Latin America have begun to shape, ever more fundamentally, both research and teaching environments. To be sure, books and journal essays remain the dominant mode of publishing (and significantly so), but digital projects—made possible in part because of increasingly accessible databases and less expensive editing platforms—are becoming widely recognized as key elements in the visual and intellectual landscape. The visual culture of Spanish America (also known as colonial visual culture or viceregal visual culture) extends across three centuries, dating from roughly 1520 to 1820. Yet its history, which embraces both the physical traces of everyday life and ephemeral experiences, is arguably the least familiar of Latin America’s artistic and material legacies, especially outside Latin American Studies. Nonetheless, the period has inspired a suite of projects that, considered together, highlight the current potentials (and limits) of digital work, provide useful models for future research, and open onto debates relevant across the digital humanities (as they are currently called). If this is the basic landscape, then what are the important issues when it comes to the intersections of digital technologies and colonial visual culture? This question is considered here along three avenues. First, what can be achieved with existing software, particularly imaging software, and the inherent epistemological assumptions imbedded in software commonly used? This topic receives the most attention because future research depends so heavily upon our perceptions and understandings of present technological capabilities. The second theme considered is accessibility. Given that institution-driven projects, most often online ventures sponsored by a museum or a library, have opened certain collections to an online public, what are the implications of the accessibility they offer, and how might such databases shape the parameters of research—both in the data they provide and in the kinds of questions their technologies make it possible to pose and answer? Finally, consideration is given to the possibilities and potentials for collaboration that the online environment offers in the study of visual culture of Latin America. To set a framework for discussion, this article begins with a broad view, “The Object(s) of Visual Culture,” and then turns to examples of scholar-driven projects currently online. Typically, these are generated by scholars working at universities and dependent upon both internal and external funding. The sections “Seeing Images, Knowing Landscapes” and “Epistemological Assumptions” not only describe examples, but also explore the modes of interpretation that digital environments enable and the habits of viewing that are produced as a result. Because scholar-driven projects do not exist in isolation, the article turns to institution-driven projects, represented primarily by digitized museum collections and archives, which have become central components of the research environment. Many projects in this vein are well-described elsewhere—our focus therefore rests on the effects on the larger research landscape, in a section called “Accessibility, Canonicity, Finance.” Lastly, issues related to collaboration are dealt with, in order to both address ideas that are being explored through digital work in other fields, but which have not yet surfaced with much force in the field of colonial visual culture, and to ask why.

Article

Katherine D. McCann and Tracy North

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 Handbook of Latin American Studies is a selective annotated bibliography of works about Latin America. Continuously published since 1936, the Handbook has been compiled and edited by the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress for seventy-five years. Published works in multiple languages are selected for inclusion in the Handbook by a cadre of contributing editors, actively working scholars who provide a service to the field by annotating works of lasting scholarly value and writing bibliographical essays noting major trends, changes, and gaps in existing research. In 1995, the Hispanic Division launched the website HLAS Online, providing access to a database of more than 340,000 annotated citations. The ability to search across more than 50 volumes of the Handbook with a single query gave researchers unprecedented access to years of scholarship on Latin America. In 2000, HLAS Web, a new search interface with more robust functionality, was launched. The two sites link researchers worldwide to a vast body of selected resources on Latin America. The Handbook itself has become a record of the history of the field of Latin American studies and an indicator of changing trends in the field. With digital access to Handbook citations of books, articles, and more, scholars are able not only to identify specific works of interest, but also to follow the rise of new areas of study, such as women’s studies, cultural history, environmental history, and Atlantic studies, among others.