Welcome to Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage’s new blog page!
The Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (a.k.a. “Recovery”) has recently been awarded grants from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. These grants will fund the Recovery’s recent initiative to create the first digital humanities center to focus on U.S. Latina/o Studies.
Things to look for on the blog as Recovery moves forward include: bilingual posts on archival material, digital exhibitions of selected collections, digital humanities projects, collaborations across disciplines and institutions, digital humanities workshops, and more! Make sure to follow us on Twitter at @APPRecovery and like our page on Facebook.
Support Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage! Become a member. Be a donor. Make a difference. You can download the Membership registration form here.
Arte Público Press just celebrated Banned Books Week! (Sept. 22-28). In light of this event promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International, we want to present three books worth checking out.
Books get banned for a number of reasons. Although it is understandable when it comes to some, most deserve to be read. We live in an age of mass censorship. A time when free speech is hindered and people struggle to get their voices heard. This trend, however, is not something totally new. The voices of minority groups have been silenced, forgotten, and neglected in U.S. history. This has been done through many different means and is still happening through the banning of books. Without them, people may never learn about the history of different minority groups and come to a better understanding of the history that they are tied to.
In historical writing, one of the things that is valued by historians are different interpretations. One true interpretation is not possible as anything claiming to be so would overlook many historical details. This is why having different interpretations is so important. With each, we come to a fuller story of a particular historical event. Some of the types of books that help with this are ones by people who were part of these events.
Book banning perpetuates the long history of silencing different narratives.
Here are three of our very own Arte Público Press books that have been banned at some point.
One of these banned books is F. Arturo Rosales’ Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. This nonfiction text chronicles an important movement in US civil rights history and is based on the four-part PBS docuseries of the same name. In addition to explaining the movement itself, Rosales begins by providing rich historical background and discussing the historical events leading up to the movement, such as the Mexican Revolution. Rosales provides a comprehensive account of the Chicano movement.
Another Arte Público Press banned book is Message to Aztlán: Selected Writings of Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez. This collection gives personal insight into the Chicana/o movement. Gonzalez was a Boxer, poet and political activist and was responsible for the first Chicano youth conference in March 1969. It’s surprising that such an important historical figure’s work would be banned. Gonzales’ book contains poems, speeches, plays, and correspondence related to the Mexican American experience. By banning this book (and others like it) it could prevent other people who identify as Mexican American from discovering it and strengthening their identity.
Tomás Rivera’s …y no se lo tragó la tierra/…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him also deals with Mexican American civil rights. It is a novel about the struggles Mexican Americans had to go through as migrant farm workers. It is told through the perspective of a boy and it’s one that reaches the heart of the Mexican American community. The banning of this book in particular is very disheartening. It reflects the experiences of many Mexican Americans today in the U.S. More importantly, without ethnic literature such as this, Mexican Americans may not have the opportunity to see themselves reflected in literature.
Emiliano Orozco is a PhD candidate in the History Department at the University of Houston and a Research Fellow with Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage. His research interests include the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands with an emphasis on colonial Nuevo León and early state development.
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.
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 U.S. Latino Digital Humanities Program in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
Over the course of the twentieth century, commensurate with the growth of the Latino population, many local libraries, historical societies, small museums and collections within colleges and universities in the Southwest have become repositories of Hispanic/Latino materials. However, these valuable collections are not well documented and, in some cases, there is risk of damage to the collections. This is largely due to the lack of adequate resources and training at these institutions, both large and small, such that these materials are often held in below standard conditions and are unknown to the scholarly community potentially interested in them.
In 2017-2018, Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage conducted a survey of small historical societies, libraries and museums in the Southwest that might hold Hispanic archival materials and to assess how they were preserved and made accessible. The survey results were published on Recovery’s website to serve as a guide to Hispanic materials at small institutions.
The final phase of the project involved inviting personnel from these small institutions to a meeting to offer us feedback and other projects that could plan out a larger, second project and to offer basic training to the personnel at these collections, to help stabilize the collections and make them accessible.
In summary 358 surveys were distributed. Of these, 59 were completed and returned. This effort was followed up with phone and email contacts to 36 institutions. Of the final list of 36 organizations reporting fully, we invited 18 to come to Houston for a full-day conference; of these 8 attended and participated in the conference. The final “Guide” published on Recovery’s website includes the full report of holdings of these institutions, the types of institutions and their needs; in these, there was a considerable amount of Hispanic archival materials identified, so as to justify the need for this project.
On Friday April 27, 2018, we brought in the historical society directors to the University of Houston to give us feedback, receive some training and plan the next steps.
Nicolás Kanellos, Ph. D.
Brown Foundation Professor of Hispanic Studies
Director, Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage
On May 14, 2019, in a collaboration between the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 60, the University of Houston’s Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage/Arte Público Press, and SERJobs, members of the community gathered to celebrate the launch of the Alonso S. Perales Digital Archive. Among those in attendance was Perales’ daughter, Marta Perales Carrizales. This digital archive marks the first digitized collection on the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Archives site.
Alonso S. Perales was one of the most prominent US Civil rights leaders of the twentieth century. He was born in Alice, Texas in 1898. Perales served in the US Army during World War I. After his military service, he attended college and law school at the National University (which later became George Washington University). Upon receiving his law degree, Perales became only the third Mexican American to practice law in Texas (Olivas xi). Perales dedicated his life to Mexican American civil rights and empowering the working-class community through knowledge and education. In 1929, Perales co-founded of the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC)–the first nationwide Mexican American civil rights organization, not to mention the largest and oldest US Latino political association. He served as the second LULAC national president from 1930 to 1931 (xiv). In addition to his work in the United States, Perales served as Nicaraguan Consul General for twenty-five years and as counsel to the Nicaraguan delegation to the United Nations in 1945. In addition, he helped draft the original Charter of the United Nations. Perales authored Are We Good Neighbors and two volumes of En defensa de mi raza. His writing stressed the need for anti-discrimination legislation and civil activism for the Latino community.
Alonso S. Perales Collection
The Alonso S. Perales Collection is Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage’s flagship online digital archive. In 2009, Marta Perales Carrizales and Raymond Perales donated their father’s extensive personal papers to the University of Houston’s Recovery Program. This collection, which measures over 40 linear feet, contains correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, civil rights writings, and foundational documents related to LULAC. The online digital collection includes a large sampling of these documents. To facilitate accessibility, the digital documents include full-text transcriptions and bilingual keywords for searches. In the future, more US Latino digital archives will be added to the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Collections (available at: usldhrecovery.uh.edu). The original Alonso S. Perales Papers are housed at the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections.
Are We Good Neighbors? Mapping Discrimination Against Mexican Americans in 1940s Texas
Perales’ activism also included the empowerment of his community. He urged people to publicly share experiences of discrimination, including the names and addresses of businesses where they were refused service. Many of the testimonies sworn to him in his capacity as Notary Public appeared in his book, Are We Good Neighbors?
The digital mapping project, Are We Good Neighbors?, uses the information in these testimonials to locate these incidents on a map in an attempt to reveal the embodiment of racism. One after another, these accounts tell stories of everyday life: going out for dinner with family, spending time with friends, looking for employment, or moving to a new house. Yet, for people of Mexican descent, these activities were marked by disgust, hatred, shame, and even violence. This project highlights the personal history of racism, one that takes place in our own neighborhoods to real people, rather than distanced through abstract statistics.
The Alonso S. Perales Collection Twitter Bot (@AlonsoSPerales) also strives to bring attention to his activism. This Twitter account automatically posts quotations (in English and Spanish) from Perales’ writing and allows his voice to continue to advocate for education, equality, and justice.
The Perales Collection is extremely important for our understanding of the historical trajectory of US Latinx civil rights. The documents in this collection reveal the ways our community refused to remain silent, even in the face of persecution. Civil rights leaders such as Perales fought for justice long before the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. The history embedded in this collection is not readily available in K-12 history books. We hope that digital projects such as these can empower our community through education and help Latina/o/x schoolchildren see themselves reflected in US history in a positive light.
LULAC is the largest and oldest Hispanic Organization the United States. LULAC advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 1,000 LULAC councils nationwide.
Arte Público Press is the oldest and largest Hispanic publisher in the United States. Established in 1979, it is the principal provider of cultural materials on Latino life in the United States for general and educational audiences.
SERJobs is a nonprofit community organization that educates and equips people in the Texas Gulf Coast Region who come from low-income backgrounds or who have significant barriers to employment.
Olivas, Michael A. (ed.) In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals. Arte Público Press, 2012.
Orozco, Cynthia E. No Mexicans, Women, or Dogs Allowed: The Rise of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. University of Texas Press, 2009.
Saldaña, Hector. “Unsung Hero of Civil Rights: ‘Father of LULAC’ A Fading Memory.” Practicing Texas Politics.
Sloss Vento, Adela. Alonso S. Perales: His Struggle for the Rights of the Mexican American. Artes Gráficas, 1977.
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!
Histories and Cultures of Latinas: Suffrage, Activism and Women’s Rights
February 20-22, 2020 University of Houston Houston, Texas
The XV Recovery conference will convene in Houston from February 20 to 22, 2020 to continue the legacy of scholars meeting to discuss and present their research. The conference theme invites scholars—including archivists, librarians, linguists, historians, critics, theorists and community members–to share examples of the cultural legacy they are recovering, preserving and making available about the culture of the Hispanic world whose peoples resided here, immigrated to or were exiled in the United States over the past centuries. This conference foregrounds the work of Latinas that focuses on women’s rights, suffrage and education as we usher in a new phase of feminist critical genealogies. We seek papers, panels and posters in either English or Spanish that highlight these many contributions, but also offer us critical ways to rethink issues of agency, gender, sexualities, race/ethnicity, class and power. Of particular interest are presentations about digital humanities scholarship, methods and practices on these themes.
The end date for Recovery research and themes will now be 1980 in order to give scholars, archivists, linguists and librarians the stimulus needed to begin recovering the documentary legacy of the 1960s and 1970s, which is fast disappearing. We encourage papers or panels that make use of archival research that provokes a revision of established literary interpretations and/or historiographies. Papers or posters on locating, preserving and making accessible movement(s) documents generated by Latinas and Latinos in those two decades will be welcome. Studies on the following themes, as manifested before 1960, will be welcome:
Analytical studies of recovered authors and/or texts
Critical, historical and theoretical approaches to recovered texts
Curriculum development: Integrating recovered texts into teaching at university and K-12 levels
Religious thought and practice
Language, translation, bilingualism and linguistics
Library and information science
Social implications, cultural analyses
Collections and archives: accessioning and critical archive studies
Documenting the long road/struggle toward equality
1960-1980 only movement(s)-related research
Additionally, XV Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Conference will offer two US Latino Digital Humanities (USLDH; #usLdh) pre-conference workshops open to conference attendees and members of the public. The workshop themes are: 1) Using Recovery archives for traditional scholarship and 2) Introduction to Digital Humanities. Pre-registration is required, a limited number of scholarships may be available. We welcome general audiences including undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate students are encouraged to submit proposals for poster presentations.
Submit your 250-word abstract for papers/posters and vitae by email to email@example.com by SEPTEMBER 30. (Deadline extended)
Arte Público Press has taken up as their difficult task to make a community visible that has been, relatively speaking, invisible, certainly at many of the expensive offices of the publishing world in New York. Arte Público is—as you know—the oldest and largest publisher of Latino literature in the United States. Since Dr. Nicolás Kanellos founded Arte Público in Houston in 1979, what has mattered is that the struggle to create relevant, high-quality work by Latino authors and for the Latino community is now more important than ever.
With about thirty books published every year, Arte Público is at once creating the future as well as preserving the past. For example, the press has focused on linking to schools to recognize Latino literary creativity: it is the largest licensor of literary materials to textbooks in the United States for the Hispanic market, and its imprint, Piñata Books, focuses on literature for children and young adults. Arte Público also conducts the largest program to recover all documents and books written by Latinos from the 16th Century to 1960, with the project “Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage.”
You want the largest minority in the United States to read?
Well, you better start focusing on writers who know the many variations of the
Latino community and you need to start publishing and promoting these writers.
Arte Público has been doing that for decades.
You want to get majority audiences to consider ‘Latino literature’ as quintessentially ‘American literature,’ the literature of the outsider and of immigrants, the literature of multilingual communities, the literature of civil rights and of finding a home in a strange new world? Well, you better start reaching into schools and communities so that the stereotypes of what people think about the United States-Mexico border, for example—in Fargo, North Dakota or on Manhattan’s Upper East Side—are upended by great books that encourage you to think, encourage to consider these new, often young communities as groups of Americans trying to make it here just as your ancestors once did. Yes, Arte Público has been in the empathy business fighting for Latinos before most of us in this room became writers.
Pat Mora, Luis Valdez, Manuel Ramos, Nicholasa Mohr, Miguel Piñero, Américo Paredes, Sandra Cisneros, Graciela Limón, Luis Leal, Nina Jaffe, Rolando Hinojosa, Lyn Di Iorio, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Diane Gonzales Bertrand, Miguel Algarín, and so many more Arte Público authors have sold tens of thousands of books and won hundreds of awards. Arte Público has been introducing, creating, and expanding this Latino literary landscape for all of us.
My own experience with Arte Público is that Director Nicolás Kanellos is a committed scholar of all things Latino, an advocate for his authors, and a tough negotiator. I actually enjoyed the give-and-take with Nick, who is the heart and soul of Arte Público. Yes, the warm and fuzzy feelings of finding a home for my book of essays, Crossing Borders, and my novel, The Nature of Truth, and my international anthology of essays, Our Lost Border, all of these feelings were there. But more importantly, I knew as a writer that they understood what I was doing on the page, they understood the readers I wanted to reach, they cared about the many communities I wanted to change. In short, Arte Público has had the same mission that I’ve always had: they want to give voice to those who want in to this American experiment, and they want to do it so that these voices are authentic and true to the people in places like Ysleta in El Paso, Texas or El Barrio of Spanish Harlem.
I would be remiss if I did not also mention two of my other
favorite people at Arte Público: Assistant Director Marina Tristan and Executive
Editor Gabriela Baeza. Both are at the center of what makes Arte Público thrive
in the literary trenches. As an author at Arte Público, you know it’s about
connecting with readers, and this all starts with connecting with the people
who are publishing your book. At every stage of the publishing process, this
personal attention is what turns your book into something much more than a
commodity to make some money or a marketing plan to cover the huge overhead of
offices on Broadway: with Marina and Gabi, your book becomes well-crafted words
to reach and advance a community you love: a work of art that matters. Arte
Público. That’s why I published with them, and that’s why I am proud that Arte
Público is the recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime
On March 14, 2019, Arte Público Press (APP) received the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandroff Lifetime Achievement Award in New York City. This is the transcript of the acceptance speech by the APP director and founder, Nicolás Kanellos, and the management team, Gabriela Baeza Ventura, Nellie González, Marina Tristan, and Carolina Villarroel.
NK: When we founded Arte
Público Press forty years ago, we envisioned it as part of the public art
movement. Our books would draw from and give back to the community, reflecting
its art, history and culture as well as its problems, like the muralists were
doing. That is why some of our initial book covers, such as for The House on Mango Street, were
commissioned to muralists.
Like the mural walls,
our pages would help to make our people visible, announcing we are here, we
have always been here and we have always contributed to life and culture in the
United States. From the start, we were inclusive of all Latino ethnicities,
religions and genders, and sought to combat stereotypes while inserting
ourselves into the national identity. As we grew, the mural became a mosaic
with each book becoming an individual tile in a large spectrum of varied
NG: Like our writers, we are mostly children
of the working class, the children of citizens, of families that have been here
since before the founding of the United States.
NK: I was an assembly line
worker and a shipping clerk weaving my box-laden dolly through Seventh Avenue traffic
in the garment district during the 1960s. Others come from humble backgrounds, doing
domestic work, farm work and other manual labor.
CV: We are the people
selling the morning newspaper but never appearing in it, the men and women
washing dishes and waiting tables but never savoring the meals; we are among
the crowds on city sidewalks who individually remain invisible, never thought
of as writers and artists. It matters not that we are descendants of original
settlers, intermarried with indigenous peoples and descendants of African
slaves, whether immigrants from long ago or just yesterday, because no matter
how long Latino families have resided in and contributed to the making of this
country, we have been seen as foreigners.
GBV: No matter how well we spoke and wrote the King’s English, or how faithfully we reproduced the canons of American literature and culture, our books remained foreign to the mainstream press and, with a few notable exceptions, outside the scope of national awards. Now, thanks to your magnanimity, we will become more visible, recognizable as part of this grand cultural venture that is the creation and publication of books. Muchísimas gracias.