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Article

Chilean-Chinese Relations  

Maria Montt Strabucchi

China’s growth as a global power in the 21st century offers an opportunity to reexamine its historical relationship with Latin America. An analysis of the connections between China and Chile provide for a better understanding of the formation of the migration, diplomacy, cultural-influence, war, and labor-force networks. Asian-Latin American exchanges and hence Chilean-Chinese relations can be traced back to the Manila Galleon. The first Chinese people arrived in Chile in the 1850s as part of the coolie trade (slavery was forbidden by the Chilean constitution) after Gideon Nye Jr. was named Chilean honorary consul in Guangzhou (Cantón) in 1845. After the war between Peru and Chile (1879–1884) a large number of Chinese working on Peruvian plantations joined the Chilean army as an alternative to the onerous labor conditions imposed upon them. Because of the saltpeter boom and the consequences of the world crisis of 1929, the first decades of the 20th century saw the settlement of many Cantonese workers in Northern Chile. In 1915, Chile inaugurated diplomatic relations with the newly established Republic of China. These relations were maintained until 1970; that year, Chile opened formal diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the PRC developed a cultural-diplomacy policy, and many Chileans visited the Asian country. In 1952, the Chile-China Cultural Association (Instituto Chileno Chino de Cultura) was established in Santiago, Chile. With the arrival of Salvador Allende to power in 1970, formal diplomatic relations were established, a demand of the Chilean Left. Chilean-Chinese relations have continued uninterrupted to date, completing fifty years of diplomatic ties in 2020. While there is undoubtedly room for improvement in mutual knowledge, which would also help in removing historical prejudices, the early 21st century has seen the Chinese community in Chile grow along with the intensification of exchanges between both countries.

Article

Coca and Cocaine in Latin American History  

Paul Gootenberg

Coca leaf (“chewed” by indigenous Andean peoples) and cocaine (the notorious modern illicit drug trafficked from the Andes) are deeply emblematic of South America, but neither has attracted the in-depth archival research they deserve. Their two modern histories are closely linked. Coca leaf, a part of Andean indigenous lifeways for thousands of years, is the raw ingredient for the alkaloid drug cocaine, discovered in 1860, and illicit peasant coca plots in the western Amazon of Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia have been the source for the infamous illicit cocaine “cartels” since the 1970s. The two drugs’ fates have both had surprisingly shifting trajectories and meanings across the colonial, national, and modern eras. They have also distinctively linked the Andes to the outside world and national political cultures of the three chief Andean states. Bolivia has the most continuous history with coca, related to the highland geography of its indigenous majority, though coca leaf only became a “nationalist” symbol over the past fifty years or so. Peru was home to the world’s first legal cocaine industries, starting in the 1880s, and coca and illicit cocaine have interacted in complex ways ever since. Colombia had the least coca traditions, and was the last nation to develop illicit cocaine exports in the 1970s and 1980s, although with a dramatic impact on Colombia and the world. This largely unknown and changeable history underlies the present-day crossroads of coca and cocaine: will the US-abetted Andean “drug wars” against cocaine continue, despite their long failures, and will coca’s place as a symbol of cultural and national pride in the Andes be fully restored?

Article

Cochabamba’s 2000 Water War in Historical Perspective  

Sarah Hines

Water has long shaped economic, social, and political life in Bolivia’s highlands and valleys. As a result of dispossession under the Incas, the Spanish, and postcolonial governments, a small group of large landowners (hacendados) controlled most water sources in Bolivia’s most important agricultural valleys in Cochabamba by the end of the 19th century. Purchases of some of these estate (hacienda) sources and hydraulic infrastructure projects under military socialist governments in the late 1930s and early 1940s increased water access for independent smallholders (piqueros) and the growing urban population there, but water ownership and access remained highly unequal on the eve of Bolivia’s 1952 revolution. After seizing power in April 1952, the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario party passed an agrarian reform that provided for redistribution of hacienda land and water sources. Redistribution of previously hoarded water sources to estate tenants (colonos) transformed the region and the nation’s water tenure regime. But the reform excluded Cochabamba’s piqueros, landless peasants, and residents of the growing department capital. In the decades that followed, these groups worked to expand and protect their water access. City center residents protested shortages and rate hikes. Migrants to neighborhoods on the urban periphery built independent water supply and distribution systems. And peasants built and maintained irrigation infrastructure and fought efforts to drill deep wells that threatened shallow irrigation wells. These groups rallied behind the Misicuni Dam project, which promised to provide water for consumption, irrigation, and hydroelectricity, and faced off with the Inter-American Development Bank and Cochabamba’s municipal water company, SEMAPA. Contention and competition over water access and management, as well as residents’ autonomous management and contributions of labor to building water infrastructure, laid the basis for conflicts over water privatization in the 1990s. “Water wars” in Cochabamba in 2000 and in El Alto in 2005 forced the national government to cancel water administration contracts with transnational corporations and helped propel coca growers’ union leader Evo Morales to the presidency. Morales, Bolivia’s first Indigenous president, called a constituent assembly to refound the country in the interests of Indigenous people, workers, and the poor, fulfilling his promise to social movements. The resulting constitution enshrined a right to water access as well as Indigenous and peasant communities’ rights to manage water and other resources autonomously. At the urging of Morales’s government and water activists, the United Nations adopted a human right to water. While some Bolivian water activists supported these efforts, others have criticized the Morales government’s use of the concept of the human right to water to justify new rounds of water dispossession.

Article

The Colonial Amazon  

Rafael Chambouleyron and Pablo Ibáñez-Bonillo

The region known as the Amazon represents approximately forty percent of the territory of the South American continent. Today, it spreads through the territory of eight countries and one European overseas territory. In the colonial period, this vast area, which stretched from the piedmont of the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean, was an essential space for European imperial conflict in the Americas. The Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, and French struggled for the possession of the region from the 16th century onward. However, the history of this vast region begins much earlier. A multiplicity of ethnically and linguistically distinct peoples occupied this territory, and their social, political, and economic arrangements were crucial for European conquest and colonization. Many of these peoples were directly affected by the arrival and settlement of the Europeans, especially by disease and wars. Others integrated into colonial society through religious missions, voluntary settlement, and forced labor. The Indian labor force was crucial for the development of the colonial economy in the Amazon. However, European dominion over this territory was limited to the banks of the main rivers, and most of the Amazonian lands remained indigenous.

Article

Competing Spanish and Indigenous Jurisdictions in Early Colonial Lima  

Karen B. Graubart

Spanish legal organization required that political communities be represented by a concejo or cabildo, which used customary law to determine and enforce the common good. In the Spanish colonial world, this entailed vesting indigenous communities with jurisdiction and political representation, parallel to that of the municipal cabildo, which represented the common good of most Spanish citizens. Nevertheless, the supposed common good of indigenous and Spanish jurisdictions often intersected or contested one another. In these cases, agents of the Spanish Crown might intervene, or the parties might negotiate new relations. Because Andean cabildos were entreated not to keep minutes of their deliberations or actions, historians have had difficulty in recognizing the role of indigenous authorities in self-governance, and given more credence to the acts of Spanish cabildos and the Crown. But Indian cabildos and caciques took meaningful decisions within their communities, as demonstrated by moments where they came into conflict with Spanish authorities, and as inferred from a small number of documents available for the similar Mexican case.

Article

The Conquest of the Desert and Argentina’s Indigenous Peoples  

Carolyne L. Ryan

The Conquest of the Desert was a military campaign launched by the Argentine state (1878–1885) to remove the Indigenous peoples of the Pampas and Patagonia in order to open the region for Argentine occupation. Then Minister of War Julo A. Roca led the campaigns and subsequently became president of Argentina in 1880. Argentine state makers described this campaign as a necessary step in growing the national economy and making Argentina a “modern” and “civilized” nation. The conquest was also celebrated by many contemporaries as marking the emergence of a “White” Argentina. Despite this rhetoric, Indigenous peoples from the pampas and Patagonia have endured throughout the 19th, 20th, and early 21st centuries. The contentious legacies of the conquest have continued to shape Indigenous peoples’ experiences in Argentine society and with the state through the early 21st century, affecting issues including land rights, cultural recognition, state violence, citizenship rights, historical memory, and social experiences of marginalization and discrimination.

Article

Conservation in the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico  

Ariel E. Lugo

Conservation is a long-term process that unfolds over time and seeks to develop harmony between human activity and ecosystems of all types. The unfolding of conservation in the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico took place over a period of over 140 years, beginning in 1876. The conservation process in Puerto Rico involved the description of the biodiversity, the understanding of forest dynamics in relation to the conditions prevailing in the Luquillo Mountains, extensive research on the life history of critical species, understanding the basis of forest resilience, recognizing the social-ecological-technological context of conservation, applying advanced technological tools, and resolving the inevitable conflict that develops among the different actors involved in the conservation effort. Unfolding conservation within a country requires continuous and effective support from governmental, non-governmental, business, and scientific sectors of the social-ecological-technological systems of the country. These sectors come together at different moments in time, and the path followed is different in different countries. In Puerto Rico, the unfolding of conservation was triggered by the government in close collaboration with academic and governmental scientific sectors. Within the Luquillo Mountains, the business sector did not oppose conservation activities, and the unfolding process reached high levels of effectiveness. The rest of Puerto Rico benefited from the conservation process unfolding on the Luquillo Mountains. In contrast, conservation in the Amazon has been characterized by conflict among different actors competing for a common resource. In general, commercial activities that are based on resource exploitation lead to conflict and a slower development of conservation activities. When the business community used science to improve land productivity, as it did in Central America, conservation benefited because the science that was used stimulated conservation values. The establishment of government institutions with a focus on conservation through research and education appeared late in the mainland tropics compared to Puerto Rico, but when it happened, it accelerated the unfolding of conservation. All the countries examined here were most effective in conservation when the collaboration among the different sectors of society was high and based on objective and anticipatory scientific activity.

Article

Constitutionalism in the Hispanic World  

Jaime E. Rodríguez O.

The concept of a constitution, a political entity that determines how a people are governed, emerged in ancient times. The government of the Roman Republic (509–27 BC) influenced the Western world. Later, Romanized Visigoths adopted a charter, the Fuero Juzgo (654), in the Iberian Peninsula that integrated Roman and Visigothic legal systems. The document influenced regional political entities throughout the Middle Ages. In the 13th century, each of the realms of the Iberian Peninsula adopted individual rather than shared fundamental codes. In 1265, King Alfonso X established Castilla’s and Leon’s first constitution, the Siete Partidas. The New World obtained its own legal system, known as the Derecho Indiano (Laws of the Indies). Like the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula, those of America created a compact between the monarch and the citizens of each realm rather than Hispanic America as a whole. These systems of uncodified legislation evolved to meet changing circumstances and societal norms. They provided corporations and individuals expanding opportunities for indirect and direct experience in self-government. In 1808, an unexpected upheaval transformed the Hispanic world. The French invaded Spain. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte lured the royal family into France, compelled them to abdicate in his favor, and then granted the Spanish monarchy to his brother, José. The Spanish people did not accept the usurper king, José I. They formed the Junta Central to oppose the invaders. As the French continued to conquer the nation, they convened a Cortes, which met on September 24, 1810, in the port of Cádiz. Approximately 220 deputies, including sixty-five Americans and two Filipinos, eventually participated in the extraordinary Cortes of Cádiz. Deputies representing overseas dominions played a central role in developing the most progressive constitution of the 19th century. Despite the political chaos that surrounded the constituent congress, the delegates debated and eventually reached consensus on a modern, flexible charter that reconciled the competing interests of the multiplicity of areas and ideological positions represented at the assembly. They produced a constitution for the entire Hispanic world that made the executive and the judiciary subordinate to the legislature. It also increased the scope of political activity by establishing representative government at three levels: the city or town with a thousand or more inhabitants (constitutional ayuntamiento), the province (provincial deputation), and the monarchy (Cortes). The charter transferred political power from the center to the localities, and incorporated large numbers of people into the political process for the first time by redefining the concept of active citizenship (i.e., those eligible to vote). This fundamental document formed the basis for constitutional development throughout the Hispanic monarchy and for most charters promulgated in the nations that emerged after the breakup of that political entity.

Article

COVID-19 and Digital Archives in Latin America  

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

The Creole Circus and Popular Entertainment in 19th Century Argentina and Uruguay  

William G. Acree Jr.

Theater in Argentina and Uruguay, which together compose the Plata river region of Latin America, has been a predominant form of entertainment since the 19th century. Theaters abound in Montevideo, while its sister city. Buenos Aires, has its own Broadway in the famed Corrientes Street. In the age of digital culture, the theater remains a mainstay of cultural life for Argentines and Uruguayans. The success of theater and the making of a theatergoing public in the region have their roots first in the variety of entertainment offered by hemispheric travelers to the region from the 1820s through the 1880s and then, most significantly, in shows put on by itinerant circus troupes in the countryside that only later filled urban theaters. From the mid-1880s through 1900 these circus troupes performed plays known as dramas criollos that dealt with rural traditions and explored issues of migration, social stratification, and tensions of economic modernization. These Creole dramas, like the narrative and poetic tales of gaucho heroes that informed them, became wildly successful, attracting spectators in the countryside and city alike, in venues ranging from makeshift tents to the most opulent theaters. They also became the namesake of the circo criollo, which referred as much to types of performers staging the tales as to the circus event where people flocked to see the new main attraction—the dramas. In effect, the Creole drama phenomenon expanded the presence of popular entertainment across the region and consolidated a theatergoing public. It also gave way to a new strand of modern popular culture in which storylines and characters reappeared in other media, and the impact of the Creole drama experience long outlived the spectacle itself.

Article

The Development of Nuclear Energy Projects in Mexico, 1938–1967  

Peter Soland

The early study of radioactivity (an important precursor to nuclear science) in Mexico was intertwined with a brilliant and determined woman’s arrival in the country. Marietta Blau Goldwin—Jewish by birth, a physicist by training, and a refugee by circumstance—helped pioneer nuclear emulsions by creating a portable technique that revolutionized the field. Blau, recommendation from Albert Einstein in hand, fled the Nazi’s invasion of Austria and arrived in Mexico City in 1938. There she initiated studies in atomic physics while teaching at the National Polytechnic Institute. This dramatic start to the country’s initial foray into the study of the atom illuminated how global political processes were inextricable from the development of nuclear science. Although her departure to the United States in 1944 impeded the momentum building behind atomic research, a core group of scientists at the National Autonomous University (UNAM) worked with government officials to promote nuclear technology during and after World War II. With the help of the Atoms for Peace program, this coalition of boosters succeeded in bringing a particle accelerator to the country in 1952. Argentina and Brazil developed nuclear programs that rivaled, if not surpassed, the scope and complexity of Mexico’s during the post–World War II era. These three nations vied for recognition as regional authorities between 1964 and 1967, as countries throughout Latin America sent delegates to Mexico City to grapple with the so-called nuclear question. Talks culminated in the 1967 Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America, commonly known as the Tlatelolco Treaty. The language of the agreement focused on curtailing the proliferation of nuclear weapons but also carried implications for nuclear power’s adoption as an energy source. The Tlatelolco negotiations led to the formation of two blocs: one, led by Mexico, championed a cautious approach to nuclear development, and the other, led by Argentina and Brazil, resisted limitations on such programs. Examining the varying trajectories of Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil’s respective nuclear programs illustrates how Cold War issues took on distinctly regional characteristics as government officials reinterpreted them in ways that accounted for unique national agendas.

Article

Digital Resources: Colonial Brazilian History  

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

Digital Resources: En el Ojo del Huracán, Private Letters from the Caribbean to Spain  

Werner Stangl

The early 19th century was a period of intense turmoil and chaos in the Spanish-speaking world: The Napoleonic Wars and French occupation of the Peninsula in the 1800s, independence movements in the Americas, the liberal constitution of Cádiz, Napoleon’s defeat, and the reinstallation of the Bourbons in the 1810s, and finally, the second constitutional period, the iron fist of restoration, and the eventual loss of most American possessions between 1821 and 1825. The least affected areas in the midst of this turmoil were the loyalist islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, metaphorically the “eye of the hurricane.” It is within this context that a corpus of some dozen letters, preserved in the Spanish National Archive, were written. They were produced in the circum-Caribbean region—most in Puerto Rico—and addressed mainly to relatives and business partners on the other side of the Atlantic. The letters in question were archived without accompanying documentation, probably seized by authorities loyal to the restoration of the Ancien Régime. As a central element, this digital resource—“En el Ojo del Huracán”—displays these primary sources in an online presentation. Beyond the historiographic value of the sources, the project explores the differences between traditional and digital edition standards (TEI) for digital letter editions with the aim of showcasing the benefits of implementing the digital paradigm and for different visualizations, functionalities, analysis and incorporation in larger infrastructures.

Article

Digital Resources: HGIS de las Indias  

Werner Stangl

HGIS de las Indias is an open-access Spanish-language database and web platform on the temporal and spatial developments in the territorial organization and settlements of all Spanish America (from Nutka to the Malvinas) during the reign of the Bourbon dynasty until the eve of the independence movements (1701–1808). It consists of several components: a platform for visualization of the database in an interactive web application, an engine for the creation of base maps, and a repository for the raw data files that can be used in specialized software. Also, HGIS de las Indias has a feature that allows registered users to create spatial data sets from tabular data. Beyond its practical use as finding aid, data provider, and mapping resource, it aims at fulfilling an even more fundamental function of infrastructure. The unique resource identifiers (URIs) for places and territorial concepts in HGIS de las Indias can be used as identifiers across projects and text annotations. Also, there exist easy workflows to prepare research data with a spatial component in tabular form and connect it with the database. HGIS de las Indias may thus serve as a link between otherwise unconnected data sets and is itself integrated in more fundamental infrastructures like Pelagios or the World Historical Gazetteer that constitute a bridge to the wider world of the semantic web.

Article

Digital Resources: Housing and Urban Development in Latin American History  

David Yee

Beginning in the 1880s, the modern foundations for architecture as a profession and academic discipline were established in Latin America’s major cities. Soon thereafter, urban planning (urbanismo) began to emerge as a distinct discipline in a period of scientific and technological innovation. This rich history has been compiled, digitized, and made available to the public by two key institutions: the Facultad de Arquitectura of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (FA-UNAM) in Mexico and the Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo of the Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina (FADU). Collectively, these two digital projects contain a wealth of information for scholars to research the cultural and intellectual histories of cities in both Argentina and Mexico. The primary resources available on both platforms provide valuable insights into how Latin America’s leading architects and planners analyzed, debated, and envisioned urban life in the 20th century.

Article

Digital Resources: José de San Martín and the Independence of Latin America  

Sebastian Raya

The documents in General José de San Martín’s collection offer detailed knowledge about the man he was, his thoughts, and his actions. In turn, the collection allows scholars to glimpse the rise of American independence movements through a leading American revolutionary. These documents date from 1723 to 1850; however, the majority of them date from 1814 to 1823. The records mainly cover the Argentine and South American territory although there is some foreign affairs material. In general, the collection mainly comprises correspondence carried out by José de San Martín, but there is also documentation of a military nature—trades, copybooks of military orders, parts of battles, files, and some sketches and drawings of plans—as well as a few personal papers. These documents were published for the first time in 1910 by the National Centennial Commission with the assistance of the Mitre Museum, who has been in charge of the documents since 1907 when the museum was established. In 1953, the Sanmartiniano Institute began to track, photograph, and compile all relevant documents about San Martín that were in private and public collections. Despite the historical relevance of the character for Latin American countries and for studies on Latin American independence, the documents published in volumes are digitized in a very irregular way and are difficult to access. However, other essential resources are also needed online to allow the user to access a comprehensive overview of the life and work of the liberator.

Article

Digital Resources: Latin America and the International Labour Organization  

Ángela Vergara

The ILO Century Project is the digitalization initiative of the International Labour Organization (ILO). It contains historical documents of the ILO such as conference proceedings and minutes, journals, reports, and the complete issues of the International Labour Review (1921–present) and Official Bulletin. There are also the reports of the Conference of the American States, the regional organization representing the American countries that are members of the ILO. In addition, the ILO has three searchable databases: LABORDOC, NATLEX, and NORMLEX. LABORDOC has thousands of open documents and books covering topics such as the Andean and the World Employment Programmes. NORMLEX includes information from the Committee on Freedom of Association and Commission of Inquiry, with the former playing a central role in the fight against dictatorship and authoritarianism in Latin America. The image gallery with pictures offers a glimpse into the presence of the ILO throughout the world. Together these sources are key to study the contributions of the ILO to labor justice, the impact of the ILO on Latin America, and the efforts of local actors to reach international organizations.

Article

Digital Resources: Malvinas/30, an Interactive Documentary on the South Atlantic Conflict  

Alvaro Liuzzi and Tomás Bergero Trpin

The Malvinas War, also known in Spanish as the South Atlantic Conflict (conflicto del Atlántico Sur), was a war between Argentina and the United Kingdom that took place in the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia, and South Sandwich between April 2 and June 14, 1982. During 2012, thirty years after the conflict, the Malvinas/30 web documentary was produced in Argentina, conceived as a transmedia production in real time. It was designed to serve as a space of collective digital memory that would involve users and recreate on social networks the hostile atmosphere of the South Atlantic Islands at the time of the skirmish. The documentary, produced by an interdisciplinary team, was developed as a continuous interactive production for five months that, by extending its narrative through different digital platforms, sought to allow users to relive the events of the Malvinas War as they had occurred three decades before in 1982. To meet this goal, Malvinas/30 was organized along three central axes: narrative synchronization between past and present (telling the story as if it were happening today); unfolding the story on different media (social networks, traditional media, and other media); and generating interactive responses from users (a collective story as a space for historical memory).

Article

Digital Resources: Medical History of Latin America in the 20th Century  

Nicole L. Pacino

Scholarship on Latin America’s medical history has traditionally relied on collections located in specific countries that are housed in national and regional archives, universities, medical schools, and government institutions. Digitized source repositories and reference websites will make these materials more accessible for researchers and students, and it is likely that digitized content will become increasingly available in the coming years. In the 21st century, various institutions in Latin America and the United States have made a concerted effort to digitize materials related to the study of health and medicine in Latin America. This effort is the product of advancements in technology that make digital preservation of material possible, as well as a growing awareness that not all archival collections, especially in Latin America, are stored in optimal conditions. The push for digitization, therefore, is centered on two primary goals: first, to make resources more available to researchers and remove obstacles to the use of archival collections, including accessibility and physical distance or travel restrictions, and second, to preserve materials in danger of decay or neglect from storage in subpar conditions. The digitization of a broad array of materials, including historical documents, newspapers, popular culture, photographs, music, and audio recordings, fosters greater use of these collections by researchers, teachers, and students inside and outside of Latin America and enhanced interaction with the institutions that maintain the digital and original collections. While not exhaustive, these sites demonstrate the extensive range of digitized sources available for the study of Latin America’s medical history. Materials span from the pre-Columbian through modern periods; the priority is collections with significant 20th-century content, but those focused on the colonial period and the 19th century are noted. The collections tap into several historiographical themes and discussions prominent in Latin American medical history, including questions about individual agency and the role of the state in administering health and medical initiatives; race, gender, and discriminatory health practices; social issues, such as prostitution and alcoholism, as public health concerns; debates about who can produce medical knowledge; the creation of medical professionalism and medical authority; and Pan-Americanism and the role of United States influence on Latin American health programs. The pace of digitization has been uneven across Latin America. A country’s wealth and access to resources determines the extent to which materials can be digitized, as do political considerations and legislation regarding transparency. Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina are well represented in the entries, and the collections are either supported by national institutions, such as universities, libraries, or government archives, or sponsored by grants that facilitate the digitization of materials. For example, the collection from Peru relies on a UK-based charitable foundation for its existence. Digital collections based in the United States are located in archival institutions and research centers and focus on the activities of Inter-American, Pan-American, and philanthropic organizations, although not exclusively. Digitized collections greatly improve accessibility to sources related to Latin American medical history, but also depend on the user’s ability to navigate different interfaces and knowledge in how to limit and target searches. Many of the sites allow for keyword searches and the opportunity to browse collections; therefore, a user’s familiarity with the topic, scope, and keywords of a collection will determine the usefulness of search results. Where downloadable material is available, it is provided free of charge, and most of these repositories state a commitment to open access and to growing their digital collections.

Article

Digital Resources: Modern Slavery and the Slave Trade in Latin America  

Jorge Felipe-Gonzalez

The expansion of the Internet and computing technologies has transformed, heuristically, methodologically, and epistemologically, the scholarship on modern Atlantic slavery and the slave trade. An increasing number of primary and secondary sources are now available online. Archives, universities, libraries, research centers, and other institutions have digitized partially or entirely historical collections and archival records and made them public through digital portals in a variety of formats. Users can instantly access, analyze, search, share, transfer, visualize, and interact with a vast amount of historical data on slavery and the slave trade, which, in the late 20th century, was scattered across archives and libraries. The increasing Web presence of digital repositories on Latin American historical slavery and the slave trade is changing previous scholarly perceptions about broader demographic, historical, and social issues, as well as about the everyday life of enslaved Africans. Digital databases on the slave trade, for instance, are answering long-term historiographical concerns regarding the number of captives carried to the Americas, their African embarkation regions, or the nationality of the carriers. Digital repositories and databases help to better understand the African geographical origins of the slaves and their ethnicities, a key component in the formation of the Afro-Latin American culture. Digitized repositories such as baptismal, marriage, and burial archival records and databases on runaway or self-liberated slaves, plantation lists, or court cases are filling gaps in scholars’ understanding of the internal dynamics of the institution of slavery, which characterized most of Latin American history for about three centuries.