Latin American Graphic Novels in the UL

This is a guest post by Joanna Page, Senior Lecturer in Latin American Cultural Studies and Director of the Centre of Latin American Studies.

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Cover of our copy of El eternauta (2014.8.4976)

The graphic novel has been enjoying a boom in many regions of the world, and is increasingly finding a serious, adult readership. Following on from Art Spiegelman’s renowned Maus (1980-1991), which demonstrated as never before the potential in graphic fiction for the treatment of important political themes, writers such as Joe Sacco, Marjane Satrapi, Chris Ware and Alison Bechtel have found the graphic novel to be a very effective medium to reflect on contemporary topics from war and religion to social isolation and sexuality. Continue reading

Cartoneros

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Colourful Eloisa Cartonera’s books at a stall at the “Noche de las Librerías”, 2011. (Image taken from Wikimedia Commons)

When in 2001 Argentina went bankrupt, thousands of families lost everything, or almost everything. Many had to find new ways of survival and many joined the cartoneros force, the street cardboard pickers who, after long hours of walk around the city with their carts, would sell what they had collected to be recycled. In these times of crisis, the country also saw the rise of diverse forms of cooperativism and solidarity within communities (such as barter groups, communitarian urban allotments or the collective running of closed factories).

In this context, two writers and an artist in Buenos Aires (Washington Cucurto, Fernanda Laguna and Javier Barilaro), who would normally self-produce and self-publish their work but couldn’t do so anymore because of the highly increased price of paper, created in 2003 an independent non-lucrative cooperative publishing house: Eloisa Cartonera. Continue reading

Goodbye to the Chilean queen

On Friday 23 January the Chilean writer, artist and activist Pedro Lemebel died of cancer. One of the most important and provocative queer voices of Latin America, Lemebel’s anti-establishment writings and performances are landmark works. Diamela Eltit, Visiting Simón Bolívar Professor at the Centre of Latin American Studies, wrote this piece on him (published originally in Spanish in the Chilean magazine “The Clinic”) and has kindly agreed to its posting on our blog. To see a list of works by and on him held at the Library, please click here.

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Pedro Lemebel (second from left) in conversation, 2011 (Image taken from Wikimedia Commons, click to enlarge).

It seems unreal writing about Pedro Lemebel, when only a few days have elapsed since his death. Perhaps it isn’t real, as in the world of the arts the notion of death remains ambiguous. This is precisely because, faced with absence, there remains the presence of an oeuvre that is very much still there – alive, available and ready to inhabit the varied presents of the future.

Las yeguas del apocalípsis (1987) signalled the founding of a collective (Pedro Lemebel and Francisco Casas) that would reveal the transvestite body as both the object and subject of critical intervention. Their performance art, staged in various ways, maintained a relationship with their predecessors, who had portrayed the homosexual body from an aesthetically challenging perspective. Continue reading

A Chilean “anti-carol”

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The cover of Coplas de Navidad, by Nicanor Parra.

The year 2013 will surely be one not to forget for many Chileans. Just last Sunday 15th December, two women were rivals in the race for the presidency, producing an unprecedented democratic contest. Michelle Bachelet ran against her childhood friend, Evelyn Matthei, and won the second round of the election with 62.16% of the vote. With her, two other young women (Camila Vallejo and Karol Cariola, from the student movement) are going to join the government and advocate a better and fairer educational system, which has been the subject of protests since 2011. Things have not always looked that promising in Chile.

On December 19th 1983, exactly 30 years ago, poet Nicanor Parra published Coplas de Navidad (Christmas ballads or verses), of which our Library holds one of only 1000 copies printed (classmark: S743:3.b.9.73). Continue reading