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Libraries, Collecting, and Area Legibility: Early Latin American Collections in the United States (1880-1945)

Sala Rafael Serrano. Biblioteca Histórica “José María Lafragua”. Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla. Fotografía: Fernando Quintanar Salinas.

A Lecture by Dr. Ricardo D. Salvatore
1 November 2021, 3pm ET (Zoom webinar)

(Lea este texto en español aquí.)

Plenary Professor of Modern History at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Cosponsored by the Programa Historia del Patrimonio Documental Mexicano, Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

During the age of Pan-Americanism (1890-1940), US universities started to build impressive collections of “Latino-Americana.”  They collected books, periodicals, government papers, and manuscripts relating to Latin America. “South America” attracted special attention for, around the time of the First World War, the sub-continent became, in the eyes of North-American businessmen, the new land of opportunity for commerce and investment. Central to this new enterprise of accumulation of knowledge was the understanding of the past. Collectors showed enormous interest in artifacts of ancient Andean cultures, manuscripts of the early Spanish colonial period, and Spanish chronicles of the Conquest. Apparently, there was little connection between the interests of North-American investors (in petroleum, railroads, tramways, meat-packing, land, and financial and commercial services) and those of university archives and libraries. But, as the earlier “Latin-Americanists” acknowledged, the commercial penetration of “South America” required an understanding of the region’s culture, society and politics. And the keys to this understanding were to be found in the colonial period. In addition, collectors of “Latino-Americana” build a strong a recurrent parallel between the commercial conquest of South America and the military and spiritual conquest carried out by the Spaniards in the early sixteenth century.

Spanish/English audio interpretation and live captioning will be available for this event. Habrá interpretación de audio en español / inglés y subtítulos en vivo para ambos eventos.

RICARDO D. SALVATORE is Plenary Professor of Modern History at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is the author of Imágenes de un Imperio: Estados Unidos y las formas de representación de América Latina (Sudamericana, 2006); Disciplinary Conquest: US Scholars in South America, 1900-1945 (Duke University Press, 2016); and in collaboration with Carlos Aguirre, he has edited Bibliotecas y cultura letrada en América Latina. Siglos XIX y XX (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2018): He has also published many articles related to questions of empire, knowledge, and book collecting. He is one of the editors (together with Gilbert Joseph and Catherine LeGrand) of the influential volume Close Encounters of Empire (Duke University Press, 1998). Two of his edited volumes may be of interest to readers interested in libraries and knowledge: Los lugares del saber (2007) and Culturas Imperiales (2005), both published by Beatriz Viterbo Editora. For some years, Professor Salvatore has been working on a new manuscript dealing with US-Latin American cultural relations; it will be titled Imperial Mechanics: Essays on the Political Culture of U.S. Pan-Americanism.

 

Image: Sala Rafael Serrano. Biblioteca Histórica “José María Lafragua”. Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla. Fotografía: Fernando Quintanar Salinas.

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