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College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences News

Expect the Unexpected: Exploring Latin American Collections at UNM

by Amy Winter on 2018-07-18T11:51:28-06:00 in Library, Latin American Studies | Comments

by Margie Montañez and Mary Wise

Buried woman with arms outstretched above the ground
"Buried Woman with Outstretched Arms
Above the Ground"

As its name implies, the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections (CSWR) specializes in materials related to New Mexico and the Southwestern U.S.  And, if you read last week's post, you know we welcomed Margie Montañez as our CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.  Perhaps what's missing at first glance at the center's name, is its plethora of interdisciplinary materials also relating to Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the cross-disciplinary departments that make some of this available.  For example, the Digital Initiatives and Scholarly Communication (DISC) department manages New Mexico Digital Collections (NMDC), an online repository of over 100,000 items from cultural heritage institutions from around the state!  Though its name suggests that most of the collections are focused on the Land of Enchantment, NMDC makes available thousands of digitized primary sources about Latin America.

For example, the Inventory of the Asamblea de Artistas Revolucionarios de Oaxaca Pictorial Collection houses prints, posters, murals, and digital captures by young artists dealing with twenty-first century political matters in Oaxaca.  Their artwork is not only signed collectively, but also utilizes both Japanese and Mexican printmaking skills.  One can find this material at CSWR, or browse some of the content uploaded to NMDC

The Center does not just have political posters!  It also has fantastic Latin American music collections.

Did you know that the CSWR has one of the most complete collections on Manuel Areu, a nineteenth century composer who traveled the globe and was instrumental in bringing zarzuelas to the Southwest?  Zarzuela is not just a 26-point Scrabble word (both the authors are champions at Words With Friends).  The zarzuela was an important hybrid popular at the turn of the twentieth century that combined popular music, dance, and lyric opera. 

Portrait of Manuel Areu
Portrait of Manuel Areu

Areu's papers are housed in the Center and include handwritten musical scores, a vast array of promotional posters from around Latin America and the Caribbean, and correspondence that reveals how the collection almost never materialized, literally, as it was recovered from an Arizona dump (see box 67 in the Collection for more!).  As part of the collection's recovery, in 2014 the University of New Mexico Honors College launched an interdisciplinary and international digital project, The Manuel Areu Project.  Collaborating with the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the New Mexico Philharmonic Orchestra among others, students, faculty, and musicians transcribed scores and even performed some of Areu's work.

Because our CLIR Fellow will work on Latin American projects, we are excited to think about the next steps for this amazing collection.  Are you interested in the Music Encoding Initiative (MEI)?  Do you want to examine what 19th century musical compositions looked like?  Contact the Center or stop by DISC to learn more!




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