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.
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.
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’.
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.
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 →