Covid-19 in literature

Published in May 2020

Telling stories has long been a way for humans to make sense of life’s many events. Little more than a year has passed since the beginning of the first UK lockdown, and we already know that huge amounts have been published about the current pandemic, chiefly online and prominently in the sciences and social sciences. In this blog post we present some of the stories authors are telling about and around COVID-19. 

In her book Viral Modernism: the Influenza Pandemic and interwar literature, Elizabeth Outka reveals that, even if the 1918-1919 pandemic ‘faded from historical and cultural memory […], [and was] overshadowed by World War One and the turmoil of the interwar period’, it in fact ‘shaped canonical works of fiction and poetry’, to the extent of framing modernism with its ‘hidden but widespread presence’. 

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Librarian-approved free online content for Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian studies

A new resource offering access to an extraordinary wealth of electronic resources with Latin American and Iberian content is now available to researchers. The Latin America North East Libraries Consortium (LANE), a working group within the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM) is behind this impressive initiative.

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CLACSO e-books, the importance of metadata and Open Access in Latin America

The difficulties in acquiring and offering access to print material during the current COVID-19 crisis has meant that many librarians have re-directed their efforts towards making more online resources available to their readers. Part of the work done by the Latin American and Iberian collections team has concentrated on publications by CLACSO (Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales), a network of 700 research institutions in 52 countries, mainly from Latin America. CLACSO’s catalogue has 2953 open access ebooks, mainly in Spanish and Portuguese, and some of them can be accessed directly from the library’s catalogue, iDiscover, and through the JSTOR platform that hosts them. However, rather disappointingly, metadata for these books was so poor that it could have caused confusion for readers. The vast majority of the nearly 200 records, which were meant to make these books retrievable, often featured little more than a title (sometimes incomplete) and the publisher’s name. Continue reading

Some resources on racism in Latin America

Screenshot - 070720 - 11:46:38As mentioned in the article Estudios sobre el racismo en América Latina by María Dolores París Pombo, studies about racism in Latin America have only started to become prominent since the Eighties. París Pombo argues that this may have to do with the underlying “official” narrative, in some Latin American countries, that the mestizo (the person of combined Indigenous and European descent) and the mulato were the quintessential incarnations of national identities, chosen as such in an attempt to defend and differentiate those nations from the metropolis. For many Latin American intellectuals, racism was just a rare phenomenon. This is, of course, not truly the case and studies on racism (and also on endoracismo, the kind of unconscious and self-imposed racism that manifests as a rejection of your own identity and the undervaluation your own historical past, that has permeated in in several indigenous communities) have consolidated ever since but in different ways in different countries, depending on how they each are trying to come to terms, or not, with their own colonial historical memories and their current realities.  Continue reading

Ernesto Cardenal: a cultural icon of the Nicaraguan revolution

Ernesto Cardenal, Nicaraguan poet, priest and revolutionary, died on the 1st of March aged 95. He wrote numerous works of poetry, as well as essays and memoirs. His poetry embraced a great variety of topics, including but not limited to history, social justice, politics, love, mysticism and astronomy. Continue reading