The Latin American and Iberian Collections team has recently acquired a small but utterly compelling collection of books published by Ediciones Vigía. These are beautiful and hugely imaginative hand-made artist books created in Matanzas, Cuba. Although in nature very different to the Cartonera collection we have built over the years, Vigía books also help us ask questions about the possibilities of creating and disseminating art and literature in a context of material scarcity.
Ediciones Vigía was founded by the poet Alfredo Zaldívar and the artist Rolando Estévez in 1985 but did not originally start as a publisher: it began as a cultural association organizing events for the local community to learn about Cuban and international authors. They would produce invitations for such events held in the then named Casa del Escritor (The Author’s House) in the Plaza de la Vigía square in Matanzas.
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 →
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.
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 →
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.