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

Love is all around

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A page from L’art d’aimer de la séduction à la volupté (S950.a.201.1093)

Saint Valentine’s Day, or the feast of Valentine, has its origins in the celebration of the life of Saint Valentine (Valentinius), a third century Roman saint. The feast day (February 14) is now, of course, related to the tradition of courtly love which has its origins in the middle ages. The history of Saint Valentine is uncertain, among the UL’s earliest works including a history of Saint Valentine is: Opus eruditissimum diui Irenaei episcopi lugdunensis in quinque libros digestum, in quibus mire retegit & confutat ueterum haereseon impias ac portentosas opiniones, ex uetustissimorum codicum collatione quantum licuit emendatum opera Des. Erasmi Roterodami, ac nunc eiusdem opera denuo recognitum, correctis ijs quae prius suffugerant (3.10.29).

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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

Borrow Spanish language e-books from the Digitalia platform

A screenshot of the platform.

A screenshot of the platform.

Cambridge University Library has renewed its subscription to DIGITALIA Hispánica for the second year running. DIGITALIA is an aggregator of Spanish-language e-books from Spain, the Caribbean and Latin America. The platform provides access to over 10,700 ebooks and 2,550 ejournal issues, many of them unique to Digitalia. It offers access across multiple file formats, including PDF, HTML Flash, and HTML. See our previous blog post with instructions on access here.

This year, a new feature will allow users to download ebooks using Adobe DRM. To activate this feature, you will need to create a personal account with DIGITALIA. You may do so by clicking on the Your Account tab in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Further instructions are available from the Help Center tab. Continue reading

Tracking down items in Afrikaans

The languages handled by European Collections and Cataloguing fall into three categories – languages taught in the University and very actively collected, languages formerly taught, in which we sometimes have a considerable number of items but in which few new imprints are acquired (a post on our Icelandic holdings has been written), and items in languages which have never been taught and studied, where virtually all additions are as a result of donation. Afrikaans material is a good example. Afrikaans is a West Germanic language that is widely spoken in South Africa, Namibia and to a lesser extent in Botswana and Zimbabwe. Most of the Afrikaans vocabulary is of Dutch origin but it adopted words from Portuguese, the Bantu languages, Malay and the Khoisan languages too. The First Afrikaans Language Movement, established in 1875, made a concerted attempt to establish Afrikaans as a separate language from Dutch. The first Afrikaans newspaper was started in 1876, and publishing houses specialising in Afrikaans language material began publication in 1914 and 1915. But even the Afrikaner (Boer) Republics at the time of the South African War in 1899-1902 used Dutch in their publications and official documents.

Given that publications in Afrikaans are of relatively recent date, and have never been actively collected, it is slightly surprising to realise that some 1,500 titles in Afrikaans are scattered through the Library’s collections. Approximately 10 to 15 titles are added each year. Afrikaans was never thought important enough to merit a separate number in our classification scheme for language and literature. Literary texts in and about Afrikaans are clustered with Dutch literature in class 751.

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