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Article

Ian Kisil Marino and Thiago Lima Nicodemo

Historians devoted to telling the story of the COVID-19 pandemic should question the archival conditions involved. In this article, we approach the archival landscape in Latin America in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, which particularly unfolded in the digital environment. First, we suggest a review of archival digitization in Latin America, providing context for the conditions observed during the pandemic. Second, we discuss the emergence of digital memory initiatives that focused on COVID-19, showing typological relations that may arise from transnational analyses. Accordingly, we dive into some Brazilian archival initiatives with major ethnographic rigor since, in addition to closely representing the reality of the region, they provide us with a more accurate immersion into the agents, platforms, and challenges of this pandemic digital undertaking. Lastly, we point out the complex situation of public archives amidst the mass of documents resulting from the pandemic. This way, we pose questions about the increasingly important interface between history, archives, and a policy for transparency of data.

Article

Emilio Peluso Neder Meyer and Maria Guiomar da C. Frota

Digital resources for Brazilian legal history in the early 21st century cover an essential range of subjects. Official or institutional websites dominate the archives that allow users to research diverse themes, from the administration of the Portuguese colonies to the documents produced by truth commissions. Many of them are open access, fostering the democratization of the archives. To assess the most relevant ones, one must consider funds, collections, documents, and their accessibility and usability, as well as the limits for accessing Brazilian historical legal documents on the internet. Researchers of Brazilian legal history must consider the dominance of official narratives that can neglect the interpretations of other actors such as minorities. The colonial period is covered by digital resources with archives that were produced in Spain or Portugal but also by the Brazilian National Library and National Archives. The Historical Archives of the House of Deputies presents relevant resources for the period of the Brazilian Empire. The First and Second Republics historical periods count on collections of judicial rulings provided with easy and free access. The period of partial democratization between 1946 and 1964, the Brazilian dictatorship of 1964–1985, and the Third Republic that came after the Brazilian 1988 Constitution are part of a significant number of digital resources also easily accessible. Presupposing the necessity of effectiveness to the right of access to information, the process of digitalization of legal resources was consolidated and became a general practice. It dominated a wide range of institutional archives. Nonetheless, researchers must be aware of governmental limits, revisionist theories, and insufficient funding for Brazilian legal digital resources.

Article

Mônica da Silva Ribeiro

Research on questions related to colonial Brazil has always been a challenge for historians of the period. In addition to the habitual adversities of historiographic research, studies of the colony have presented some specific difficulties as it involves documentation with at least three centuries of existence. For this reason, these primary sources have often seriously deteriorated due to the actions of time, environmental factors, or bad conservation. In addition to these problems, there exists the question that these documents are scattered among various archives in different regions of Brazil and on the other side of the Atlantic in Portugal, since the central administrative bodies of the Portuguese Empire were concentrated there, from where they communicated with their colonies and conquests. To shorten these distances, preserve the sources, and allow wide-ranging democratic access, websites have emerged to host the digitalized documentation of archives, libraries, and research collections. Since the 2000s, websites with both specific and more general subjects have been created, covering a wide range of content related to colonial Brazil, organized in digital collections. Various types of sources, such as cartographic, iconographic, and textual which allow aspects from social, political, economic, and cultural history to be dealt with, among others, can currently be found and analyzed without researchers having to physically visit institutions, which can be many kilometers from their residence. Much work which previously was either not done or which was limited due to the lack, or even the complete absence, of documents can now be carried out, which above all collaborates with the growth of the area.

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

Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, was launched in 1997. The library contains almost five million documents (manuscripts, books, journals, newspapers, maps, iconographic documents, and recordings), many of which are connected to Latin America, offering rich perspectives on the relationships between France and Latin American countries across the centuries. The many travel narratives, testimonies, essays, photographs, and maps available provide rich insight into French perception of Latin America from the early 16th century to the mid-20th century. Although Gallica’s collection of manuscripts on Latin America is not plentiful, one of its main goals is to provide easy access to rare French books printed centuries ago, of which not many copies are available today and which are rarely present in other digital libraries. The richest collection is probably on Brazil, since Gallica has organized a special collection titled “France-Brésil” which provides access to the rich personal collection of books and manuscripts of the first French historian of Brazil, Ferdinand Denis (1798–1890), among other treasures. Gallica has undeniable value for researchers specialized in Latin American history, although working on its collections requires at least reading proficiency in French as the vast majority of the accessible resources are in French.

Article

The Opening the Archives Digital Collection on the history of US–Brazilian relations contains 50,000 documents about the two countries during the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964–1985) at the height of the Cold War. Student researchers, under the leadership of James N. Green, Professor of Brazilian History and Culture at Brown University, have scanned and indexed thousands of records from the presidential libraries of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan, as well as from the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Department, among other institutions and organizations. This digital archive affords researchers access to U.S. sources that register the decisions of Washington policymakers as they responded to the rise of radicalism in the early 1960s and the establishment of an authoritarian regime in 1964, which lasted twenty-one years. Materials include documentation on U.S. economic and military aid programs, analyses of the political situation in Brazil, and evaluations of the opposition to the generals in power. Other archives record U.S. labor organizations’ programs directed toward Brazilian trade unions. A collection of dossiers registering information on high-ranking Brazilian military officers, which was compiled by the U.S. Defense Department, provides insights into the relations between the Pentagon and the Brazilian Armed Forces. With the ultimate goal of publishing 100,000 records, the project reflects Brown University’s deep commitment to fostering collaborative relationships in international research projects while strengthening the university’s goal of becoming a leading center for the study of Brazil in the United States. Designed to give universal open access to these archives for researchers, the project is sponsored by Brown University Libraries in partnership with the State University of Maringá, Paraná, and Bem-te-vi Diversidade in São Paulo.

Article

Pedro Telles da Silveira and Thiago Lima Nicodemo

Digital resources are an encompassing category that frames distinct digital projects, from the digitization of collections to the presentation and increased accessibility of already-digitized documents. In Brazil, digitization projects have gained momentum from 2006, spurred by the debates related to digital sovereignty, and have peaked around the interval between 2014 and 2016. Since then, the intensity of these debates and the rate of digitization of collections have dwindled. Nonetheless, large projects, such as Biblioteca Brasiliana Digital and the numerous projects led by the Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro, have become increasingly relevant in the current landscape of Brazilian historical research. Besides these developments, the scenario of digitization in Brazil has opened up space for different initiatives, among them personal archives. Although personal archives evoke numerous theoretical dilemmas, such as the distinction between private and public spheres and the deliberative agency of their forms of organization, they have been among the many roads to digitization of collections in Brazil. To understand the place that personal archives occupy among the digitization projects in Brazil, it is therefore necessary to understand how the more general category of digital resources has developed in Brazil.

Article

Women occupy few professional roles in electronic music scenes worldwide. In Brazil, and particularly in the city of São Paulo, female collectives have been playing an important role in raising awareness and trying to change this scenario in recent years. In order to do so, they appropriate social media as communication tools, which become relevant digital resources. Mamba Negra was founded in 2013, and was initially organized by Carolina Schutzer and Laura Diaz. They are part of a cultural movement that seeks to occupy São Paulo’s underused public spaces for festivities that embrace especially the female, queer, and black communities. Their name is that of a dangerous snake from Africa (Dendroaspis polylepis). Their considerable number of supporters is concentrated on their Facebook fan page, which had more than 38,000 followers as of April 11, 2019. The page was created on August 27, 2013. Since its origin, the page aims at sharing multimedia content related to the collective’s activities, such as events (mostly performances and parties), their online radio show, and photos and videos from specific artists. Bandida Coletivo is a collective of female DJs, event and music producers, photographers, and graphic artists that was created in 2016 with the aim of building safe spaces for women within the electronic music scene, not only to experiment with their art, but also to obtain more visibility and professional participation in events. Their name can be translated as “Female Bandit Collective,” and they are especially addressed to an audience of women from the outskirts of São Paulo. Their Instagram profile, @bandidacoletivo, is their preferred outlet in social media. It was created in December 2016 and had almost 2,400 followers as of April 24, 2019. It is filled with pictures and videos from different events they promote, such as parties and workshops, and their DJs’ performances.

Article

The Laboratory of Oral History and Images (LABHOI), a division of the history department of the Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil, celebrated thirty years of work in 2012. Since its creation in 1982, the LABHOI has been developing projects on the history of memory of different Brazilian communities, based on both oral and visual sources and the relationship between them. Despite its academic origin, the main purpose of the LABHOI’s projects is to engage communities in the production of their own history through visual and oral records. One of the results of this work has been the organization of a digital database accessible to the public at large. The LABHOI has become an important source for theoretical and methodological debates about the uses of visual representations of the past, and its members have published books and articles in this field. Recently, the LABHOI turned to the production of experimental videos based on the idea of the “videographic writing” of history, a modality of historical text that can perfectly mix sounds and images of recollections.

Article

Álvaro Pereira do Nascimento

At least four major periods help to understand Brazilian history from pre-contact until modern times: the era of indigenous societies prior to 1500; the Portuguese colonial period (1500–1808); the experience of the Monarchy (1808–1889); and the Republic (1889–2019). Although the expanding and varied repositories offering digital resources do not necessarily cover these four highlighted periods thoroughly, researchers should still know them before navigating through the documents and images such repositories are making freely available to the public. Historical Brazilian digital holdings can be grouped into nine broad areas: (1) documents produced by national, state, and municipal governments; (2) records relating to specific historical moments; (3) sources for immigrant, indigenous, and African and Afro-Brazilian studies; (4) collections helpful for examining labor, industry, and plantations; (5) sources relevant for sex and gender studies; (6) materials for the history of science; (7) personal and private collections; (8) periodicals (newspapers and magazines); (9) and sources related to artistic, patrimonial, and cultural production. Researchers will find abundant sources about Brazilian society, political changes, the economy, education, commercial relations, wars and revolts, urban reforms, companies, violence, customs, and values, among many other topics and issues. Scholars and students can access interviews, photographs, newspapers, magazines, books, civil and parish records, laws and reports from government institutions, correspondence, music, movies, documentaries, maps, and much more.