Francia Márquez, the first Afro-Colombian vice-president

On 19th June 2022, after a second round of voting, the Colombian people elected their first ever left-wing government, led by Gustavo Petro, with Francia Márquez as vice-president, the first ever Afro-Colombian and only the second woman to hold the position. In this post, we will focus on this trailblazing woman, who studied Law specifically to be prepared to defend the rights of her people, and on the context that led her and her country to this new chapter in their history.

Francia Elena Márquez Mina was born in 1981 in Yolombó, in the Cauca Department on the West coast of Colombia, one of the areas of the country where enslaved populations from Africa have lived since the 17th century. Traditionally in this region, Black slaves were forced to work in gold mining, sugarcane plantations and cattle ranches. To this day, the impact of exploitatative and extractivist practices on peoples, territories and resources in the region are still painfully relevant and have been part of Francia Márquez’s life experience since her earliest formative years, which would lead her to become a committed activist from the age of 17 years old. This life experience remains the basis of her politics, as she makes the move from activism to mainstream politics. Continue reading

The first comprehensive study of the cartonera phenomenon

We are very pleased to announce the launch of the book Taking Form, Making Worlds: Cartonera Publishers in Latin America, on Friday 10th June at 4pm at Centre of Latin American Studies (Alison Richard Building, Seminar Room 204). 

Lucy Bell (Senior Lecturer in Spanish and translation studies, University of Surrey), Alexander Ungprateeb Flynn (Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Contemporary Art, UCLA) and Patrick O’Hare (UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, University of St. Andrews) have collaborated with the University Library in the building up of our cartonera collection . They will be presenting and discussing their new book, the first comprehensive study of cartonera, in conversation with David Lehmann (University of Cambridge) and Clara Panozzo (Latin American and Iberian Collections, Cambridge University Library). The book is published by the University of Texas Press and is available online for Cambridge users here.

Drawing on interdisciplinary research conducted across Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, the authors show how this hands-on practice has fostered a politically engaged network of writers, artists, and readers. More than a social movement, cartonera uses texts, workshops, encounters, and exhibitions to foster community and engagement through open-ended forms that are at once creative and social.  

(from the publisher’s description) 

You are all kindly invited to attend! 

Clara Panozzo 

“Write about something that has never happened to people who have never existed” 

Angélica Gorodischer, by Nicolasgoro, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Such was the recipe for storytelling of Angélica Gorodischer, the Argentine award-winning author who passed away a month ago, on February 5th, in her beloved hometown of Rosario at the age of 93 years old. Her books were translated into several languages, including English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Czech and Russian, and although it was not the only genre she was prolific in, she is mainly known for her science fiction works. Continue reading

  Good things come in small packages

A colourful display of books at Taller Leñateros (from Wikimedia Commons)

This post is about two small, beautiful publications that come packed with great significance. These are two books by the publishing collective Taller Leñateros (translated as ‘Firewood Collectors/Peddlers Worskhop’) in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Taller Leñateros publishes the first books produced, written, illustrated, printed and bound entirely by Mayan people in 400 years1, and was founded in 1975 by Mexican poet Ambar Past.

Chiapas, as the perifery of the perifery, is known to the world because of the EZLN (the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, or Zapatista Army of National Liberation) who democratically control a substantial part of this Southern Mexican territory in the name of local indigenous rights. The geographical position of Taller Leñateros in this rural area is of high importance in this context2, considering as well that most of the publishing industry of the country is located in Mexico City, where literary production is mandated by big national publishers, some of them linked to mainstream publishing multinationals. 

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Expanding rhizomes: cartoneras unlocking voices this side of the Atlantic

In their article Latin American politics underground: Networks, rhizomes and resistance in cartonera publishing1, Lucy Bell and Patrick O’Hare (two of the researchers leading the two-year AHRC funded cartonera project ) use Deleuze’s, Guattari’s and (one of the Argentinian cartonera precursors) Javier Barilaro’s theories on rhizomes to explain the course by which, since their beginning in the early 2000s, cartonera publishing networks developed and multiplied (to around 250 currently) across Latin America, forming underground horizontal alliances in similarly fertile social and cultural soils. 

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