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Digital Resources: Rubén Darío Papers 1882–1945 in the Arizona State University Digital Repository  

Seonaid Valiant

The Nicaraguan poet, journalist, and diplomat Rubén Darío was one of the foremost writers of the modernist movement in Latin America at the turn of the 20th century. In his writing, Darío struggled with the historicity of Spanish and the weight of colonialism. Throughout his career, his work explored the changes in language, religion, love, and sexuality in the postcolonial era. A collection of Darío’s manuscripts and transcripts of Darío’s poetry and correspondence with other journalists, diplomats, poets, and romantic partners is available at the Arizona State University Library. This collection contains unique correspondence with important persons who were modernists and politicians, such as Emilio de Arriaga, Pedro Balmaceda Toro, Ernesto Bermúdez, Luis Bonafoux, Francisco Castro, Benigno Díez Salcedo, Rodolfo Espinosa, Fermín Estrella, Vicente Gasset, Crisanto Medina, and Amado Nervo. The archive was collected by Darío’s secretary, Alejandro Bermúdez. These papers may be seen online or in person at the Hayden Library.

Article

Digital Resources: The Sandino Rebellion Digital Historical Archive, Nicaragua, 1927–1934  

Michael J. Schroeder

From May 1927 to December 1932, the Nicaraguan nationalist Augusto C. Sandino waged guerrilla war against the U.S. Marines and Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua to expel the “Yankee invaders” and achieve genuine national sovereignty. The war was centered in Las Segovias, the mountainous, sparsely populated northcentral region of Nicaragua bordering Honduras. The website is envisioned as a comprehensive, interpretive, open-access digital archive on this much-discussed but still dimly understood “small war” of the interwar years. Rigorous accuracy, judicious interpretation, and the democratization of knowledge rank among the website’s most important guiding principles. Before mid-1927 there is very little documentation on Las Segovias. Then, starting with the June 1927 Marine invasion and occupation, our documentary base explodes. For nearly six years, the US imperial spotlight—expressed in a dazzling variety of texts—illuminated the hidden corners of a society and history hitherto almost totally obscured. Alongside this explosion of imperial texts was the proliferation of texts and artifacts created by the Sandinista rebels. In January 1933 the spotlight vanished, and a month later Sandino's rebellion ended in a provisional peace treaty with the newly elected Sacasa government. The Marines went home, carting hundreds of boxes of records with them. What the U.S. imperial gaze spotlighted for those six or so years constitutes the bulk of this website’s focus. Smaller in scale but often punchier in impact are the textual fragments and social memories produced in Las Segovias that survived the brutal repression that followed Sandino’s assassination in 1934. Inspired by social and cultural history “from the bottom up,” this project conceives of the Sandino revolt as a social and cultural process, as a local response to foreign invasion and occupation. The documents presented here reflect this focus, selected because they speak in some fashion to the agency of Nicaraguans and Segovianos in shaping their own history—including campesinos and Indians, tenants and sharecroppers, smallholders and squatters, miners and migrant workers, seasonal and day laborers, as well as townsfolk and artisans, smugglers and bootleggers, peddlers and traders, boat-drivers and mule-drivers, ranchers and coffee growers, merchants and professionals, politicians and military leaders—individuals, families, and communities caught up in a whirlwind of foreign invasion and insurgency as complex and multifaceted as any in history. What manner of revolutionary movement was this? What were its origins, characteristics, and legacies? All the documents presented here speak to these broader questions and themes. A work in progress, the website currently houses nearly 5,000 primary documents from U.S., Nicaraguan, and other archives, including patrol and combat reports, intelligence reports, photographs, letters, diaries, maps, oral histories, propaganda fliers, and more. Comprised of 20 expansive, interlinked digital file cabinets organized by archival repository and theme, this noncommercial, easy-to-navigate website contains a goldmine of readily accessible information for students, teachers, and scholars on the period of the Sandino rebellion.

Article

Digital Resources: The Digital Library of Ibero-American Heritage  

Silvia E. Gutiérrez De la Torre and Miguel D. Cuadros-Sánchez

The Digital Library of Ibero-American Heritage: Biblioteca Digital del Patrimonio Iberoamericano (BDPI) is a metasearch engine that provides access to the digital resources of fifteen countries in Iberian-America. This tool is provided with a simple search, an advanced search, and an Application Programming Interface (API), all of which provide different points of entry into the digital objects’ metadata as well as direct links to these sources in their original repositories. These objects can be queried through multiple fields such as resource type, author, edition, date, full text search, and providing institution, among others. The BDPI’s collections contain a selection of documents curated by specific word searches on the digital objects’ metadata. These collections range from botany and fauna to gastronomy, folk tales, the Paraguayan War, and sound records, just to name a few examples. The BDPI is part of a new stage in the long-term efforts of national libraries across Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula, with the purpose of enabling public access to historical materials via the Internet. Thus, the analysis of this initiative implies also a reflection about the overall public importance of libraries and the open access to their collections. Due to technological and institutional difficulties, the BDPI still has a lot of room for improvement, especially in terms of mapping variants into more standardized metadata. Nonetheless, this digitization and web outreach initiative has great potential for scholars around the globe interested in the study of Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula.

Article

Digital Resources: The League of Nations and Latin America  

Fabián Herrera León

Historical research on the phenomena of the multilateral interaction and transnationalization of institutional structures and norms centered on the international organisms of the interwar period, with the League of Nations as the central axis, have benefited enormously from the creation and development of several digital resources in first decades of the 21st century. One challenge for this period involves efforts to reconstruct the trajectories, collaboration, and interaction of Latin American members in relation to those international organizations, but these have been increasingly favored by these resources because of the information they concentrate or make available, and because they combat the omissions and imperceptibility to which this region has often been subjected. International histories centered on Geneva that radiate out toward Latin America could represent a new area of development for websites that specialize in consolidating such digital resources as the United Nations Office at Geneva (library and archives), the League of Nations Photo Archive, the League of Nations Search Engine (LONSEA), and the History of the League of Nations.

Article

Digital Resources: The Study of Brazilian History  

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.

Article

Digital Resources: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database  

David Eltis

The Slavevoyages website completed ten years of successful operation in 2018. Drawing on four decades of archival research on five continents, a revolution in computer-processing costs, and the more recent explosive growth of the worldwide web, the site currently offers public access to several databases on slave trading in the Atlantic World. The two most important of these are first, a database of 36,000 slave-trading voyages between Africa and the New World, and second, a database of 11,400 voyages from one port in the Americas to another—a traffic known as the intra-American slave trade. The time span covered is from the 16th to the late 19th century. The site also offers personal information on 92,000 Africans found on board some of those voyages, which is stored in a separate database, as well as an interface that permits users to explore our estimates of the overall size and direction of the transatlantic slave trade broken down by each of the 340 years of its existence. In other words, the site attempts to allow for voyages for which information has not survived. The site currently averages over 1,000 visitors per day, who consult a mean of eight pages per visit. It was one of the first web-based databases to use crowdsourcing to correct existing information and attract new contributions to its core database. These are currently refreshed on an approximately annual basis and earlier versions are made available to users on a download page. Slavevoyages has become the basic reference tool for anyone studying the transatlantic slave trade, and is used widely by teachers, genealogists, and scientists as well as historians and, more specifically, scholars of slavery and the slave trade.

Article

Digital Resources: Tulane University’s Collection of Cuban American Radionovelas, 1963–1970  

Christine Hernández

The Latin American Library (LAL) at Tulane University is the repository for the Louis J. Boeri and Minín Bujones Boeri Collection of Cuban American Radionovelas (hereafter, Radionovelas Collection). The physical collection contains 8,934 individual reel-to-reel tapes containing audio recordings produced by Boeri’s Miami-based America’s Production Inc. (API). Boeri founded API in 1961 to create and license radio programming to serve an expanding commercial market of Spanish-language audiences across Latin America, Europe, and the United States. Boeri employed some of the best writing, acting, musical, and technical talent in the business, most of whom were recent emigres from Cuba, the wider Caribbean, and Mexico. API’s radio soap operas went silent after the company closed in 1970 and as the listening public and commercial sponsors increasingly turned to television for serialized entertainment. The LAL began a multiphase initiative in 2015 to digitize its aged audio tapes. With generous support from the Latin American Research Resources Project (LARRP) of the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) and the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), the LAL converted one third of the collection’s audio recordings to digital. Beginning in 2020, forty-one of API’s “soaps,” most in their entirety, are accessible via a digital collection in the Tulane University Digital Library (TUDL). Available in the digital collection are programs that span multiple genres with titles like Agente Secreto 009 [Secret Agent 009]; La Hora de Misterio [Mystery Hour]; and Amarga Espera [Bitter Awaiting]. API print materials including advertising, program catalogs, and company photographs will also appear in digital. The Radionovelas Collection offers new perspectives and insights into the use of media for Cold War political and cultural propaganda by Cuba and the United States. It also provides a public resource to engage with and research the history of popular culture, sonic literature, and mass media among Spanish-speaking audiences all over the world.

Article

Documentary Photography and Protest under Chile’s Dictatorship  

Ángeles Donoso Macaya

An array of documentary photographic practices that emerged during the dictatorship in Chile (1973–1990) remain understudied, despite their political, aesthetical, and historical import. From the mid-1970s onward, these different practices served different purposes: some made visible the crime of disappearance and its disavowal by the repressive state; others stood as supplementary evidence that confirmed the legal existence of the detained-disappeared; some were a crucial force in denouncing state repression and demanding justice for victims; and some made it possible for independent media to simultaneously comply with and ridicule the censorship of images imposed by the dictatorship in 1984. These practices also helped to consolidate the expanding photographic field under dictatorship. They include the public display of ID photos and portraits torn from family albums; documentary images that relatives of the victims of repression pinned to their chests; the reproduction, compilation, and incorporation of these portraits into legal files and habeas corpus claims; the publication of countless photos of popular protests in independent media; and different photographic initiatives put forward by a group of photographers who established the Independent Photographers Association in 1981. Notably, the expanding photographic field under dictatorship engaged not only individuals and groups directly involved with photography but also ad-hoc human rights collectives and organizations (especially the Group of Family Members of the Detained-Disappeared and the Vicariate of Solidarity), as well as lawyers, judges, journalists, and everyday users of photography. Given the different arenas in which documentary images circulated, the transformations they underwent to resist repression and censorship, and the array of individuals involved in their (re)production and dissemination, a study of documentary photography under dictatorship in Chile cannot content itself, as has been the case, with surveying the practices that emerged within the artistic field. A study of the visual culture under dictatorship instead reveals both the different uses of photography in the public space and the transformations of documentary images in their successive circulations and disseminations.

Article

Dutch Atlantic  

Evan Haefeli

The Dutch Atlantic is often ignored because for much of its history it was quite small and seemingly insignificant compared to other European colonies in the Americas. However, it began with extraordinarily ambitious conquests and colonizing schemes. The present-day Dutch Caribbean—St. Martin, Saba, Eustatius, Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire—is but the remnants of what was, in the first half of the 17th century, an empire that claimed large portions of Brazil, the Caribbean, North America, and Africa. Forged during the decades-long Dutch Revolt against Spain, this budding empire collapsed soon after the Dutch gained Independence in 1648. European powers that had been allies against the Spanish turned against the Dutch to dismantle their Atlantic empire and its valuable trade. A series of wars in the second half of the 17th century reduced the Dutch colonies to a handful of smaller outposts, some of which in the Caribbean remain Dutch to this day. A recent wave of scholarship has emphasized the dynamism, ambition, and profitability of the Dutch Atlantic, whose fate reflected its origins in the small but dynamic Dutch Republic. Like the Republic, it was acutely sensitive to changes in international diplomacy: neither was ever strong enough to go entirely on its own. Also like the Republic, it was very decentralized. While most all of it was technically under the authority of the West India Company, a variety of arrangements in different colonies meant there was no consistent, centralized colonial policy. Moreover, like the Republic, it was never a purely “Dutch” affair. The native Dutch population was too small and too well employed by the Republic’s industrious economy to build an empire alone. As the Dutch Atlantic depended heavily on the labor, capital, and energy of many people who were not Dutch—other Europeans, some Americans, and, by the 18th century, a majority of Africans—colonial Dutch language and culture were overshadowed by those of other peoples. Finally, the Dutch Atlantic also depended heavily on trade with the other European colonies, from British North America to the Spanish Main. The Dutch were expert merchants, sailors, manufacturers, and capitalists. They created Europe’s first modern financial and banking infrastructure. These factors gave them a competitive edge even as the rise of mercantilist laws in the second half of the 17th century tried to exclude them from other countries’ colonies. They also displayed a talent for a variety of colonial enterprises. New Netherland, covering the territory from present-day New York to Pennsylvania and Delaware, began as a fur-trading outpost in the 1620s. However, by the time it was captured by the English in 1664 it was rapidly becoming a “settler colonial society.” Suriname and Guyana developed profitable plantations and cruel slave societies. In Africa and the Caribbean, small Dutch outposts specialized in trade of all sorts, legitimate and not, including slaves, textiles, sugar, manufactures, and guns. Although their territorial expansion ceased after 1670, the Dutch played an important role in expanding the sugar plantation complex of other empires, partly through their involvement in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Until the Age of Revolutions, the Dutch Atlantic remained a profitable endeavor, keeping the Dutch involved with Latin America from Brazil to Mexico. Venezuela in particular benefitted from easy access to Dutch traders based in Curaçao. Religion played a smaller, but still important role, legitimating the Dutch state and enterprises like the slave trade, but also opening up windows of toleration that allowed Jews in particular to gain a foothold in the Americas that was otherwise denied them. Although the surviving traces of the Dutch Atlantic are small, its historical impact was tremendous. The Dutch weakened the Spanish and Portuguese Atlantic Empires, opening up a path to Imperial power that would subsequently be seized by the French and British.

Article

Ecological Ideas and Historical Construction of the Brazilian Cerrado  

Sandro Dutra e Silva

Brazil’s national territory has traditionally been analyzed in terms of large biogeographical regions. The most current and widely used classification for both planning and environmental conservation purposes in Brazil divides the country into six large biomes: the Amazon, the Caatinga, the Cerrado, the Pantanal, the Atlantic Coast Forest, and the Pampa. All the biomes have faced threats to the preservation of their natural resources from various causes. Despite its rich biodiversity, the Cerrado has historically been affected by these threats, especially by the rapid expansion of the agricultural frontier over the past fifty years. An important issue for the environmental history of the Cerrado and for Brazilian biomes in general is the context of the ecological ideas used to construct the paradigms by which Brazil’s biogeographical formations are defined. This context involves ecological assumptions incorporated over the years that are crucial to understanding the historical construction of the Cerrado and other biomes. The ecological ideas that have historically constituted the Cerrado help to reflect on the historical distribution of phytogeographies, their specific features and the processes by which both human and nonhuman elements of the Brazilian biomes interact. The Cerrado is, therefore, a historical construction, the product of ecological metaphors and environmental paradigms adopted since the 19th century. Since 2004, the demarcations and territorial definitions of the Cerrado have been largely guided by the concept of biomes, which has also guided the country’s environmental policies. Similarly, the cartographic representation of the biomes is also a historical construction that reflects the prioritization of floristic compositions, especially in the distinction between forests and campos (grasslands) in Brazil. Due to its geographic location, the Cerrado shares a border with almost all the biomes, with the exception of the Pampas in the far south of Brazil. In addition to its floristic complexity, the adaptive integration of its fauna and flora, and the ways in which humans have adapted to the environment, the environmental history of the Cerrado offers an important insight into the asymmetries and strategies by which the environment is used and protected in Brazil.

Article

Environmental Conflict and Exploitation in the Coastal Areas of Chile  

Pablo Camus

Small fishermen have lost their ability to make use of the maritime and coastal environments at the same time that the Chilean state has facilitated the introduction of capital and the privatization of the sea, impacting ecosystems and ancestral productive activities alike. However, faced with the industrialization of maritime spaces, artisanal fishermen developed mechanisms and strategies that allowed them to dispute the privatization of the sea and exercise their rights to occupy coastal areas.

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The Environmental Crisis in Latin America  

Guillermo Castro H.

An environmental crisis is neither the result of a single factor nor of a combination of such. On the contrary, it results from a complex combination of modes of interaction between natural and social systems, operating for periods in time and space. This holds true for the environmental crisis in Latin America, understood within the context of the first global environmental crisis in the history of our species. The combination of facts and processes with respect to the crisis in Latin America is associated with three distinct and interdependent historical periods: (1) The first period, one of long duration, marks the interaction with the natural world of the first humans to occupy the Americas and encompasses a timespan of at least 15,000 years before the European conquest of 1500–1550. (2) The second period, one of medium duration, corresponds to European control of the region between the 16th and 19th centuries, a timespan that witnessed the creation of tributary societies grounded in noncapitalist forms of organization, such as the indigenous commune, feudal primogeniture, and the great ecclesiastical properties, which were characteristics of peripheral economies that existed within the wider framework of the emerging modern global economic system. (3) The third period, one of shorter duration, extended from 1870 to 1970 during which capitalist forms of relationships between social systems and natural systems in the region developed. This period was succeeded, beginning about 1980, by decades of transition and crisis, a process that is still ongoing. In this transition, old and unresolved conflicts reemerge in a new context, which combines indigenous and peasant resistance to incorporation into a market economy with the fight of urban dwellers for access to the basic environmental conditions for life, such as safe drinking water, waste disposal, energy, and clean air. In this scenario, a culture of nature is taking shape, which combines general democratic demands with values and visions from indigenous and African American cultures and those of a middle-class intellectuality increasingly linked to global environmentalism. This culture faces state policies often associated with the interests of transnational corporations and complex negotiation processes for agreements on global environmental problems. In this process, the actions of the past have led to the emergence of a great diversity of development options, all of which are centered in one basic fact: that, in Latin America as elsewhere around the word, if we want a different environment we need to create different societies.

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Environmental History of Coffee in Latin America  

Stuart McCook

Coffee has played complex and diverse roles in shaping livelihoods and landscapes in Latin America. This tropical understory tree has been profitably cultivated on large estates, on peasant smallholdings, and at many scales in between. Coffee exports have fueled the economies of many parts of Latin America. At first, coffee farmers cleared and burned tropical forests to make way for their farms and increase production. Early farms benefited from the humus accumulated over centuries. In Brazil, farmers treated these tropical soils as nonrenewable resources and abandoned their farms once the soils were exhausted. In smaller coffee farms along the Cordillera—from Peru up to Mexico—coffee farming was not quite as wasteful of forests and soils. In the mid-20th century, scientific innovation in coffee farming became more widespread, especially in established coffee zones that were struggling with decreasing soil fertility, increasing soil erosion, and new diseases and pests. In the 1970s, national and international organizations promoted large-scale programs to “renovate” coffee production. These programs sought to dramatically increase productivity on coffee farms by eliminating shade, cultivating high-yielding coffee cultivars, and using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Renovation brought tremendous gains in productivity over the short term, but at the cost of added economic and environmental vulnerability over the longer term. Since the end of the International Coffee Agreement in 1989, the global coffee market has become much more volatile. New coffee pioneer fronts are opening up in Brazil, Peru, and Honduras, while elsewhere coffee production is shrinking. NGOs and coffee farmers have promoted new forms of coffee production, especially Fair Trade and certified organic coffee. Still, most coffee farms in Latin America remain “conventional” farms, using a hybrid of modern and traditional tools. Economic and environmental sustainability remain elusive goals for many coffee farmers, and the threat is likely to increase as they grapple with the effects of climate change.

Article

European Antiquarianism and the Americas  

Alain Schnapp

The discovery of the Americas occurred at a time when the Renaissance was upending European sciences, especially history and its representation. Suddenly there appeared peoples who seemed to be the exact opposite of Europeans on account of their customs and techniques, and others, like the Incas or the Aztecs, who seem to compete with the Romans of antiquity, as much with their political system as with their sumptuous monuments. Before that, the West had never been confronted with such a clash of civilizations occurring within only a few decades. While new generations of scholars in Europe were reinterpreting the classical heritage, others set about exploring pre-Roman cultures, interpreting runes, and describing megaliths. This intellectual revolution went hand in hand with the foundation of an ethnographic knowledge enriched with a practice of images that overturned knowledge. Scholars undertook to depict the mores of the Indians with the same enthusiasm as they had depicted those of the first inhabitants of Europe. They became interested in the glyphs of the Aztecs and Mayas with a tenacity identical to that deployed to decipher Roman or Greek inscriptions. The Mexican or Peruvian antiquarians of the 16th and 17th centuries, some of whom were the descendants of the indigenous elites, had no reason to be envious of their European colleagues. Beyond the terrible violence of colonization, the singularity of the discovery of the Americas lies in the foundation of a transatlantic culture that, on both sides of the ocean, drew the contours of a universal history of humanity.

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FARC, Shining Path, and Guerrillas in Latin America  

Marc Becker

Armed insurrections are one of three methods that the left in Latin America has traditionally used to gain power (the other two are competing in elections, or mass uprisings often organized by labor movements as general strikes). After the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, guerrilla warfare became the preferred path to power given that electoral processes were highly corrupt and the general strikes too often led to massacres rather than a fundamental transformation of society. Based on the Cuban model, revolutionaries in other Latin American countries attempted to establish similar small guerrilla forces with mobile fighters who lived off the land with the support of a local population. The 1960s insurgencies came in two waves. Influenced by Che Guevara’s foco model, initial insurgencies were based in the countryside. After the defeat of Guevara’s guerrilla army in Bolivia in 1967, the focus shifted to urban guerrilla warfare. In the 1970s and 1980s, a new phase of guerrilla movements emerged in Peru and in Central America. While guerrilla-style warfare can provide a powerful response to a much larger and established military force, armed insurrections are rarely successful. Multiple factors including a failure to appreciate a longer history of grassroots organizing and the weakness of the incumbent government help explain those defeats and highlight just how exceptional an event successful guerrilla uprisings are.

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Germans in the Habsburg Empire in South America (Colonial Venezuela)  

Giovanna Montenegro

In 1528, the Welsers, bankers of Augsburg, received a capitulación (contract) from Charles V, Holy Roman emperor and king of Spain, to govern the Province of Venezuela for the Spanish Crown. The territory, located in the northwestern region of modern-day Venezuela, was ruled by a joint German-Spanish administrative team that was plagued by chaos and distrust. In addition to undertaking conquest expeditions, the Welsers engaged in both the African and the indigenous slave trade and experimented with the extraction and export of medical plants such as balsam. The Spaniards, anxious about the Welsers’ access to power in the conquest and colonization of the “Spanish” Indies, saw the Welser governors as Lutheran barbarians. Most of the Spanish historiography did the same. In any case, the colony ended officially in 1556, soon after Juan Carvajal tried to administer the colony and had Philipp von Hutten, the colony’s governor, and Bartholomäus Welser VI, the eldest son of the company’s boss, assassinated. The colony was mostly forgotten in Germany until the 19th century, when German imperialists used it as an example to further colonization in parts of Africa and the South Pacific. Venezuelans, after gaining independence from Spain, maintained a pro-Spanish view of the colonization of the nation’s western territory into the early 21st century.

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Guano, Intensive Agriculture, and Environmental Change in Latin America and the Caribbean  

Gregory T. Cushman

Agrarian societies in Latin America and the Caribbean have accomplished some of the most important and influential innovations in agricultural knowledge and practice in world history—both ancient and modern. These enabled indigenous civilizations in Mesoamerica and the Andes to attain some of the highest population densities and levels of cultural accomplishment of the premodern world. During the colonial era, produce from the region’s haciendas, plantations, and smallholdings provided an essential ecological underpinning for the development of the world’s first truly global networks of trade. From the 18th to the early 20th century, the transnational activities of agricultural improvers helped turn the region into one of the world’s primary exporters of agricultural commodities. This was one of the most tangible outcomes of the Enlightenment and early state-building efforts in the hemisphere. During the second half of the 20th century, the region provided a prime testing ground for input-intensive farming practices associated with the Green Revolution, which developed in close relation with import-substituting industrialization and technocratic forms of governance. The ability of farmers and ranchers to intensify production from the land using new cultivars, technologies, and techniques was critical to all of these accomplishments, but often occurred at the cost of irreversible environmental transformation and violent social conflict. Manure was often central to these histories of intensification because of its importance to the cycling of nutrients. The history of the extraction and use of guano as a fertilizer profoundly shaped the globalization of input-intensive agricultural practices around the globe, and exemplifies often-overlooked connectivities reaching across regional boundaries and between terrestrial and aquatic environments.

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Henrietta Yurchenco: Ethnomusicology Pioneer in Mexico and Guatemala  

Yael Bitrán Goren

Henrietta Yurchenco, née Weiss, was a pioneer of ethnomusicology research. Her expeditions in various regions of Mexico and Guatemala between 1942 and 1946 allowed for the gathering of musical recordings from the Zoque, Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Chiapaneco, Tojolobal, Cora, Huichol, and Seri peoples of Mexico, and from the Quiché, Kekchí, Ixil, and Zutujil peoples of Guatemala. A portion of these expeditions were carried out thanks to an agreement signed between the Instituto Indigenista Interamericano (III; Inter-American Indigenist Institute) and the Mexican Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP; Public Education Ministry/Department) and the Library of Congress (LOC) in Washington. The recordings produced by these expeditions were made direct-to-disc and are preserved at the Fonoteca Nacional de México (Mexican National Music Library/Collection), where they have been completely digitalized. They were also recognized with the Memory of the World distinction by UNESCO in 2015. One-hundred thirty two (132) discs are preserved with hundreds of pieces from these cultures, of enormous value to Mexican cultural heritage. In her memoirs, published in two versions (Spanish and English), Yurchenco offers a fascinating account of her travels in Mexico and Guatemala. Additionally, she explores specific aspects of the aforementioned research in specialized journal articles and book chapters. Yurchenco was particularly interested in discovering traits from pre-Hispanic music. This goal drove her to explore remote regions of Mexico. Her work in its vast majority—both her writings and recordings on Latin America as well as on the rest of the world—still has yet to be studied.

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History of the Torre Latinoamericana  

Sarah Beckhart

Historians have extensively explored the topic of architecture in Mexico City in the 20th century. From the relationships between politics, public patrons, new construction technologies, and new idioms of modernism, the impressive story of architecture in this megalopolis continues to astound and captivate people’s imaginations. Architecture was a channel that politicians used to address housing, education, and health care needs in a rapidly growing city. Yet scholars have not been especially concerned with private construction projects and their influence on the process of shaping and being shaped by the visual representation of Mexico City. Private building projects reveal an alternative reality of the city—one not envisioned by politicians and public institutions. Private construction projects in the historic city center are particularly interesting due to their location. These buildings are built on ancient clay lakebeds and volcanic soil on which the Aztecs first built the city. Not only are these buildings located in the heart of the city, the buildings in the rest of the historic district are also sinking. Any building in a historic district that has withstood the test of time should be an object of interest to scholars. The Torre Latinoamericana is perhaps the only building in the historic district and the entire city that ceases to sink, and instead floats! Located on the corner of Madero and San Juan de Letrán, the building sits at the heart of history, culture, and ancient Aztec clay lakebeds. The Torre Latinoamericana was built between 1948 and 1956 and is one of the most important visual symbols of resilience and modernity in Mexico City today.

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The History and Science of Hurricanes in the Greater Caribbean  

Sherry Johnson

The Caribbean’s most emblematic weather symbol is the hurricane, a large rotating storm that can bring destructive winds, coastal and inland flooding, and torrential rain. A hurricane begins as a tropical depression, an area of low atmospheric pressure that produces clouds and thunderstorms. Hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June 1 through November 30, although there have been infrequent storms that formed outside these dates. Hurricanes are classified according to their maximum wind speed, and when a tropical system reaches the wind speed of a tropical storm (35 mph), it is given a name. Lists of names, which are rotated periodically, are specific to certain regions. If a named storm is responsible for causing a significant number of deaths or property damage, the name is retired and replaced with another. Most deaths in a storm came from drowning, from storm surge along the coast or from flooding or mudslides in the interior. Storm-related deaths also occur when structures collapse or when victims are struck by flying debris. One important and underestimated cause of death after the passage of a storm is disease. Even if the destruction is not immediate, the passage of a hurricane can leave significant ecological damage along the coast and in the interior. Hurricanes can have a devastating effect on a community that takes a direct hit. Repeated hurricane strikes can leave a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, “hurricane fatigue.” Conversely, survivors of a disaster are often left with a feeling of confidence that, since they have endured the effects of at least one deadly hurricane, they can do so again. Until the last half of the 18th century, meteorology remained primitive, but the Age of Enlightenment brought scientific and ideological advances. Major beneficiaries were royal navies whose navigation manuals and nautical charts became increasingly more accurate. In 1821, William C. Redfield established the circular nature of storms and their counterclockwise rotation, while other scientists showed how wind currents within the storms moved upward. Once the coiled structure of hurricanes were established by mid-century, the term “cyclone” was applied, based upon the Greek word for the coils of a snake. After the mid-19th century, scientists moved from information gathering to attempts to predict hurricane strikes. Technology, in the form of the telegraph, was a key component in creating a forecasting system aided by organizations such as the Colegio de Belén, in Havana, Cuba. Later in the century, governments worldwide created official observation networks in which weather reports were radiotelegraphed from ships at sea to stations on land. The 20th century experienced advances, such as the use of kites and balloons, and the introduction of weather reconnaissance aircraft during World War II. In April 1960, the first satellite was launched to observe weather patterns, and by the early 1980s, ocean buoys and sophisticated radar systems made forecasts increasingly more accurate.