With support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the 2019-2020 Manifold Digital Services Pilot Program, Arte Público Press/Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage announce the launch of Arte Público Digital (APP Digital).
The Manifold platform displays iterative texts, powerful annotation tools, rich media, and robust community dialogue, transforming scholarly publications into interactive digital works. In 2019, Manifold selected the University of Houston’s (UH) Arte Público Press/Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage as one of ten groups to participate in the second round of its pilot program.
The first full manuscript published on APP Digital is Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage, Volume I, edited by Ramón Gutiérrez and Genaro Padilla. First published in 1993, this volume was the first anthology on recovered literature scholarship produced by the Recovery Program, laying the foundation for what would become the premier center for research on Latino documentary history in the United States.
Amid the move toward online instruction, this digital volume offers a virtual option for content and assignments. Educators and students can create free accounts on APP Digital, which gives them access to highlighting, annotating, and sharing capabilities. Educators can create a private reading group and share an automatically generated invitation code that students can use to create annotations visible only to the class. Students may interact with questions the educator pre-adds to the margins, annotate the text with their thoughts and questions in the margins, and respond to their classmates’ annotations. The “Share” tool allows users to share a passage from the text on Twitter or generate a citation for the selected passage in APA, MLA, or Chicago styles. Recovery Volume I makes an excellent addition to US Latino, Mexican American, Ethnic, and American studies, history, or literature courses.
APP Digital is an extension of the US Latino Digital Humanities Program. In 2019, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded UH a grant to establish a first-of-its-kind US Latino Digital Humanities Program in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. The program will give scholars expanded access to a vast collection of written materials produced by Latinos and archived by the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (“Recovery”) program and UH’s Arte Público Press, the nation’s largest publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by Hispanic authors from the United States.
HISTORIES AND CULTURES OF LATINAS: SUFFRAGE, ACTIVISM AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS
The Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Board invites submissions for publication in a refereed volume on the histories and cultures of Latinas. We welcome submissions from archivists, community members and activists, critics, historians, librarians, linguists, scholars and theorists who recover, preserve and make available the histories and cultures of US Latinas up to the 1980s.
The volume will have five chronological/thematic sections:
History, collections and archives, folklore and oral histories
Print culture and periodicals, literature and theatre, visual representation and style
Curriculum development and pedagogical approaches, bilingualism and linguistics, education, language and translation, library and information science
Methodological and theoretical approaches to recovered histories and cultures
Topics of engagement include, but are not limited to: colonial literature and history, the Latino Nineteenth Century, la voz del pueblo, representation of Latinas in popular culture, beyond borders and languages, community and activism, Latina memory, Latina agency, social and political roles, suffrage and feminism, food and labor, modernism, nationalism, revolution and identity.
SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS, STYLE AND LENGTH
Criteria for inclusion: 1) relevance to the histories and cultures of US Latinas up to the 1980s, 2) challenges to western-centrism and patriarchy, 3) analytical studies of recovered authors and texts.
Submissions under consideration for the volume must employ the author-date citation method along with other documentation formats in accordance with the MLA Handbook. Submissions must conform to a word count of some 5000-6000 words or 20-25 pages in length, in English or Spanish.
TIMELINE AND SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
To be considered for publication, papers must be submitted as a Word digital document via email, including author’s name, professional affiliation, contact information and title of the article to both editors Montse Feu (email@example.com) and Yolanda Padilla (firstname.lastname@example.org) by August 30, 2020. After the peer-review process, and upon acceptance of selected papers, authors will receive revision requests by December 15, 2020.
Revised and completed papers along with any needed illustrations and figures (including any required permissions) should be finalized and sent to the co-editors by March 15, 2021. Expected publication date: September 2021.
HOUSTON, Texas, Archivists of the Houston Area (AHA!) — Join the Archivists of the Houston Area for the second biennial Houston Archives Bazaar on Sunday, November 17 from 10am to 2pm at White Oak Music Hall, 2715 N Main Street, Houston TX 77089. This free, family event is an opportunity for Houston communities to engage with historical collections and resources. Discover local histories, share your stories, and learn to preserve them! Featuring interactive activities and exhibitors from over twenty Houston and Gulf-Coast area archives, at the Houston Archives Bazaar (HAB) visitors will learn about the Bayou City’s diverse and extensive historical resources in the Resource Gallery; have a conversation and connect with knowledgeable archivists at the Ask-An-Archivist station; bring up to five personal items and gain hands-on experience digitizing family photographs, letters, documents, and other treasured personal materials at the Digital Memories Booth; and learn preservation and wet salvage techniques in demonstrations by TX-CERA. Complete your Passport to Houston Archives to win giveaways and more! Visitors are encouraged to bring items to contribute to the Houston Time Capsule, which will be “buried” under a 30-year restriction in the AHA! records at the Woodson Research Center. Visitors are also encouraged to share a story about Houston in the Oral History Storytelling Booth, contributing to the growing collection of HAB oral histories that began in 2017. The Archivists of the Houston Area is a professional organization that exists to increase contact and communication between archivists and those working with records, to provide opportunities for professional development, and to promote archival repositories and activities in the greater Houston, Texas area.
Dr. Lorena Gauthereau, former CLIR-Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Houston, joins Arte Público Press/Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage as the new Digital Programs Manager. Gauthereau will support research, training and projects in the Digital Humanities and Social Engagement as part of the US Latino Digital Humanities program. A $750,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been awarded to the University of Houston to establish a first-of-its-kind US Latino Digital Humanities Program in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. The program will give scholars expanded access to a vast collection of written materials produced by Latinos and archived by the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage (“Recovery”) program and UH’s Arte Público Press, the nation’s largest publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by Hispanic authors from the United States.
Gauthereau will build on her previous work at Recovery as a Fellow, which includes digital and archival research, data curation, digital humanities training, project management, social engagement and public humanities community events.
Gauthereau received her PhD from Rice University in 2017. Previously, she worked as the Americas Studies Researcher on the Our Americas Archive Partnership at Rice University, a project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS). She joined the UH team at Recovery in August 2017.
Last month, The Black Lunch Table (BLT) project teamed up with Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage/Arte Público Press to host a Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon to create, update, and improve Wikipedia articles related to US Latinx authors, artists, academics, and organizations as well as people from the African Diaspora.
Students and scholars from across the country joined us in personal and virtually from the University of Houston, Pace University, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, the University of Texas-Arlington, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Texas A&M Prairie View University, Houston Community College, and The Colorado College.
33 beginners and experts alike worked together to add a grand total of 11, 400 words, edit 31 articles, create 192 edits, upload 3 commons files, and create 1 brand new article.
We look forward to hosting similar events in the future!
I gave the following talk on Jan. 5, 2019 at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention held in Chicago, IL.
This talk was part of a TC Digital Humanities sponsored roundtable on Digital Hispanisms with Alex Saum-Pascual (UC, Berkeley), Sylvia Fernández (U. of Houston), Nora Benedict (Princeton U), Vanessa Ceia (McGill U), Lorena Gauthereau (U. of Houston), Hilda Chacón (Nazareth College). This roundtable was designed to spark a conversation on the intersections between Digital Humanities (DH) and Hispanic Studies (HS). For all the speakers’ abstracts, please visit: https://mla.hcommons.org/groups/digital-humanities/forum/topic/mla19-582-roundtable-digital-hispanisms-2/
As we reflect on Digital Hispanisms in this roundtable, I want to briefly describe the types of theoretical frameworks and methodologies that emerge when engaging the digital humanities (DH) through US Latinx Studies. Specifically, I am interested in the groundwork laid by Chicana and Third World feminists. Rather than continuing to center hegemonic Anglophone theorists, I argue that by drawing from the lived experiences of Women of Color, we can shift the types of conversations taking place in the field of digital humanities. As a Woman of Color, I recognize that we cannot rely on hegemonic DH theory to acknowledge, much less accurately represent, our lived experiences and the digital stories we tell. As an example of DH discourse elaborated from the perspective of Third World feminism, I will discuss my mapping project, “Are We Good Neighbors?” and how my proposed theoretical framework highlights what is at stake in doing this type of DH: it’s a matter of humanizing a past that has all too often been silenced. Third World feminism accounts for the way that theory and lived experience meld, and stresses that the theoretical needs to be grounded in the flesh because our experiences cannot be separated from who we are.
“Are We Good Neighbors?” is a story map that includes transcriptions of affidavits and maps incidents of discrimination against Mexican Americans in Texas during the 1940s. These affidavits are from the Alonso S. Perales Collection at the University of Houston’s Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. Perales was one of the first Mexican Americans to practice law in the US and one of the co-founders of the civil rights organization, the League of United Latin American Citizens (or LULAC) (Olivas xi). In addition to practicing law, he was also a diplomat, veteran, civil rights activist, and author of two books: En defensa de mi raza (In Defense of My People) and Are We Good Neighbors?, from which I drew the digital project’s name. As part of his activism, Perales encouraged the Mexican American community to report discrimination and to call out, by name, the public establishments in which these incidents occurred. As a result, his archival collection includes hundreds of affidavits and letters.
One after another, these accounts tell stories of the quotidian: going out for dinner with family, spending time with friends, moving to a new house, riding the bus to school, or even going to the barber shop for a haircut. Yet, for Mexican Americans in the 1940s, these quotidian activities are marked by disgust, hatred, shame, fear, and even violence. And these negative affects are felt and worn on the body. Mapping these instances gives a materiality to the offenses, geolocating them in neighborhoods and commercial centers still frequented today. When the bodies of those who experienced this discrimination are long gone, it is our bodies that can physically stand in these places.
Framed through the lens of Third World feminists, such as Sara Ahmed, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Cherríe Moraga, “Are We Good Neighbors?” reveals the personal history of racism, one that takes place in our neighborhoods to real people, rather than distanced through abstract statistics. What becomes apparent when mapping these accounts is the personal and normalized embodiment of racism in the US. The juxtaposition of these affidavits and maps call people to be witnesses through time and affectively embed the experience in its physical location. These locations are often places that we can imagine ourselves in. Remembering injustices through this type of witnessing makes people of color visible, and is, as Ahmed writes, “about claiming an injustice did happen; this claim is a radical one in the face of the forgetting of such injustices” (2004; 200).
Take for example the affidavit sworn by Amada B. Quesnot, the mother of five-year old Eugene Quesnot. On November 13, 1941, she attempted to take little Eugene to M&S Clinic for treatment yet was turned away because of her ethnicity. Amada writes,
The lady in charge in the Social Workers Room asked me if I was Latin American and when I replied in the affirmative she stated that no Latin American children were accepted for treatment at that Clinic.
(Quesnot qtd. in Perales 204)
Turned away, Amada insists upon her own legitimacy in her letter, tracing it through her US citizenship and both her husband’s and older son’s military service. She was born here, she protests. But her brown skin is read as un-American; and the brown skin of her five-year old child is read as undeserving of medical attention. Her decision to write the letter affirms her need to do something, to plead for political action. She documents a struggle, a status quo that needs to change. Her lived reality is tied to this political desire. Cherrie Moraga’s theory in the flesh makes this connection; a theory in the flesh, she writes, is a theory in which “the physical realities of our lives–our skin color, the land of concrete we grew up on, our sexual longings–all fuse to create a politic born out of necessity” (19). Echoing Moraga’s (1981) argument that theory is fused to the body, Sara Ahmed states that:
The personal is theoretical. Theory itself is often assumed to be abstract: something is more theoretical the more abstract it is, the more it is abstracted from everyday life. To abstract is to drag away, detach, pull away, or divert. We might then have to drag theory back, to bring theory back to life.
Gloria Anzaldúa’s (1987) mestiza consciousness then weaves these two together. It is the thread that ties the theory to the flesh. Anzaldúa imagines the mestiza putting
history through a sieve…This step is a conscious rupture with all oppressive traditions of all cultures and religions. She communicates that rupture, documents the struggle. She reinterprets history and, using new symbols, she shapes new myths.
Mestiza consciousness as an approach to DH calls us to read for the silences in historical narratives, to discard the frameworks that marginalize the experiences of people of color, and to invent new theories and methodologies that center our lived experiences.
Turning to Third World feminism in DH, then, reminds us to bring theory back to life, to bring it back to the lived experience. “Doing DH” isn’t just about the final product, but also about the process of dragging theory back and embodying it. Moreover, shifting the loci of enunciation from the center to the margin, reimagines DH not just as a site of knowledge-production, but also as a site of decolonial resistance and social justice. Our digital work does not need to be reduced to mere zeros and ones or replicate the canonical archive of dead white men’s work, but instead can be a space to reclaim lost histories, reveal injustices, and demand that our voices be heard. Allow me to end with one last Ahmed quotation in order to highlight the importance of thinking through DH via Third World feminism; I ask that you reflect on digital scholarship and digitized archives as I read this: “Your texts are littered with love. Words can pulse with life; words as flesh, leaking; words as heart, beating.” (2017; 230). Thank you.
Ahmed, Sara. Cultural Politics of Emotion. Routledge, 2014.
_____. Living a Feminist Life. Duke University Press, 2017.
Anzaldúa, Gloria E. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Aunt Lute Books, 1987.
Moraga, Cherríe and Gloria E. Anzaldúa. This Bridge Called My Back.Writings by Radical Women of Color. 4th ed., SUNY Press, 2015.
Olivas, Michael A. (ed.) In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals. Houston: Arte Público Press, 2012.
Quesnot, Amada , “Affidavit sworn by Amada Quesnot to Alonso S. Perales,” Alonso S. Perales Collection. Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Collections.
Houston, TX January 2019— The National
Book Critics Circle (NBCC) has announced that Arte Público Press, the
nation’s largest publisher of U.S.-based Hispanic authors, has received the prestigious
Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. Named
after the first president of the NBCC, the award is given annually to a person
or institution with an extensive history of significant contributions to book
“The award comes as a total surprise because it
typically goes to authors,” said Dr. Nicolás Kanellos, founder and director of
Arte Público Press. “This recognition will help us amplify voices in Latino literature
throughout the United States.”
The National Book Critics Circle Awards, considered among the most respected literary awards in America, are bestowed by a jury of working critics and book-review editors. Past recipients include Margaret Atwood and Pulitzer Prize-winner Toni Morrison.
“The University of Houston has given Arte Público
Press an intellectual space in which to create and thrive, and has provided
Latinos the opportunity to make a nationwide cultural imprint through
literature,” said Dr. Kanellos. “I am proud that the Arte Público Press staff continues
to strive for literary excellence. We labor not for our own recognition, but
for the benefit of the authors we publish. Our mission to create a space for Latinos
in the national culture guides us forward.”
The NBCC Awards
will be presented on Thursday, March 14, 2019, at 6:30 pm at the New School’s Tishman
Auditorium (66 W 12th Street, New York, NY 10011), and a finalists’ reading will be
held on March 13, also at 6:30 pm at the same location. Both events are free
and open to the public.
The National Books Critics Circle was
founded in 1974 at the Algonquin Hotel by a group of the most influential critics of the day.
Comprising nearly 600 working critics and book-review editors throughout the
country, the NBCC annually bestows its awards in six categories, honoring the
best books published in the past year in the United States. The finalists for
the NBCC awards are nominated, evaluated, and selected by the 24-member board
of directors, which consists of critics and editors from some of the country’s
leading print and online publications, as well as critics whose works appear in
Arte Público Press is
the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and
recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.
Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to
the realistic and authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters, and
customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Based at the University of
Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic
Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive
showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity. For more information, please visit our
website at www.artepublicopress.com.
Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage/Arte Público Press congratulates undergraduate, María Amador Cano, on being selected for the prestigious 2019-2020 Mellon Research Scholars Program at the University of Houston. María joined Recovery in April 2018 as an intern and has been aiding in the preservation, digitization, and data curation of various collections.
The Mellon Research Scholars Program awards student participants with $5,000 to conduct individual research projects and participate in developmental academic and mentorship activities for spring 2019-spring 2020. The research projects culminate in a paper or thesis and are presented by the end of the program.
María plans on working with the Martha P. de Perales Collection, which includes newspapers, manuscripts, legal documents, photographs, and invention schematics.
Last week (July 31, 2018), I had the honor of speaking at CLIR’s (Council on Library and Information Resources) summer seminar for new Postdoctoral Fellows. I was very excited to get the opportunity to meet a new cohort of fellows just as they are beginning their new positions at various institutions. (For more information on CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowships, visit their website! And keep an eye out for the next round of applications this fall/winter.)
My talk centered on the work we do at Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (aka “Recovery”), the importance of minority archives, and working toward inclusivity. For 27 years, Recovery has dedicated itself to recovering, preserving, and disseminating the lost written legacy of Latinas and Latinos in the United States. US Latina/o collections, like other minority collections, do not traditionally form part of a larger national historical narrative. Herein lies the importance of minority collections: the stories they tell give us a more nuanced understanding of US history and culture.
Let’s take a step back to think about the structure of archives, the inherent issues, and the questions that we—as archivists, scholars, students, and educators—should ask ourselves when engaging with historical collections. Archives help structure knowledge and history. Michel Foucault argues that history “now organizes the document” [with “document” being the archival] “divides it up, distributes it, orders it, arranges it in levels, establishes series, distinguishes between what is relevant and what is not, discovers elements, defines unities, describes relations” (146). Thus history, or perhaps more aptly, what we understand to be or call history, cannot be distinguished from the production and organization of the archive. Furthermore, national archives help to create an authoritative national narrative. The International Council on Archives, for example, describes archives on their webpage as follows:
Archives constitute the memory of nations and societies, shape their identity, and are a cornerstone of the information society. By proving evidence of human actions and transactions, archives support administration and underlie the rights of individuals, organisations and states. By guaranteeing citizens’ rights of access to official information and to knowledge of their history, archives are fundamental to identity, democracy, accountability and good governance.
Given this defined mission of archives, we can think about what archives do or are meant to do; they define:
what is—and what isn’t—considered “important,”
I write these words in quotation marks to stress that the defining or shaping of such concepts is a construction. In this vein, archives have historically functioned as mechanism of colonialism. They have helped to structure our understanding of history and the nation in a way that also structures our understanding of what we call “civilization” and “barbarism.” In order for colonialism to thrive, imperial powers had to not only take over a physical territory, but they also had to control the shared imaginary. Franz Fanon (1963) emphasizes the total reach of colonialism and its desire to destroy the history of oppressed peoples in The Wretched of the Earth. He writes:
…colonialism is not simply content to impose its rule upon the present and the future of a dominated country…. By a kind of perverse logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts it, disfigures it and destroys it. (210)
As a result of this logic, the colonial model created institutions determined to own and possess history in order to categorize it (using Eurocentric methods of classification). In many cases, history and artifacts were/are appropriated, to the extent of removing sacred items and even bodies (or just body parts) and putting them on display. Think of mummified Egyptian and Indigenous bodies, Sara Baartman (known as the Hottentot Venus), etc. Items stolen from their original communities are often displayed or archived in museums, archives, and libraries. Because of this, it is important to take the moment to reflect when we work on, interact with, curate, and teach archives or the items in them. Here are a few questions to consider:
Who determines what belongs in the archive?
Who defined the archive? Who determined what was archivable?
Who created the metadata? (Think about the traditional way of organizing things in a library, i.e. using Library of Congress subject headings)
Who maintains the archive?
Who has access to the archive or the knowledge contained in the archive?
Where did the material originate?
Since, as mentioned earlier, archives have historically functioned as an instrument of colonialism, community members with personal collections are often wary of institutional archives. Even today, large, well-known libraries have disposed of or sold collections deemed “unimportant” (usually minority collections) in order to make room for “more important collections.” Moving away from an archive design that requires possession and ownership is a stance that delinks libraries from the colonial model. The postcustodial theory of archives is “the idea that archivists will no longer physically acquire and maintain records, but that they will provide management oversight for records that will remain in the custody of the record creators” (Pearce-Moses). Digital technology allows archivists the ability to return physical collections to the original record keepers and create digital copies that can be housed in an institutional repository. Furthermore, postcustodial practices offer opportunities for community engagement, as Sofía Becerra-Licha (2017) suggests. Digital technology, she contends,
…presents a significant opportunity for participatory and post-custodial approaches that seek to shift curatorial authority and access to the communities represented. In this model, archivists work side-by-side with community members to actively rectify gaps in historical coverage and proactively document the present day. (n.p.)
Postcustodianship allows us to re-think the institutional structure of the archive and promotes new possibilities for record oversight and knowledge-production. Considering the questions posed earlier and the theory of post-custodial archives, we can begin to restructure archives themselves. Personal and community archives can challenge traditional notions of “the national archive” as both a brick and mortar building and a collection of the “official” history. The goal of post-custodianship is to open up new avenues for creating knowledge. It allows the communities themselves to maintain ownership of their own histories, but also fills in the gaps of the official record by providing minority points of view.