Currently viewing the tag: "Ellen Jaramillo"

Monday, May 20, 8:30-10:00

Moderator:  Ellen Jaramillo, Yale University

Rapporteur: Natalie Baur, University of Miami

Presentations

  • Red de Bibliotecas Comunitarias Riecken — Marco Israel Quic Cholotío, Bibliotecas Comunitarias Riecken
  • Aproximación al tesauro del huipil tradicional triqui de San Andrés Chicahuaxtla — Patricia Alejandra Méndez Zapata, Fundación Alfredo Harp Helú, Oaxaca, AC., México
  • Escritoras y periodistas en el Perú del siglo l9 (1850-1900) — Maida Watson, Florida International University

Marco Israel Quic Cholotío presented on his work with a system of community-supported libraries in Guatemala. Quic emphasized that the community libraries serve as centers of learning and promoting curiosity. The libraries also facilitate the diffusion of information in alternate ways since many in the communities are not literate. The libraries are considered “community-based” since they include input and contributions from the community, the municipality and partner organizations. Without one part, the whole cannot function; therefore the community participation is essential to the function of the organization.

After introducing the general overview of the Riecken Libraries, Quic discussed the various types of programming and services that the libraries offered its patrons. Along with providing internet access and reading materials, the libraries also have strong programs in strengthening local culture. Programs include storytelling with children and community elders, Mayan cooking and weaving classes for children and young adults, and a role in working with community members to publish oral traditions as children’s books. The libraries also provide bibliomóviles (bookmobiles) in rural areas without access to brick and mortar libraries. Finally, the libraries also play a role in organizing community service opportunities for all ages.

Patricia Alejandra Méndez Zapata presented on her work with the Triqui community in Mexico and the preservation of their traditional weaving methods and symbols. Méndez explained that in the state of Oaxaca, there are fifteen indigenous peoples, and that the community of Triqui has grown to include a mix of the traditional and the “new.” Méndez lived in the community over several periods of time in order to develop a thesaurus of weaving terms and designs with the help of Triqui women.

Méndez spoke first about how she gained confidence with members of the community and obtained an invitation to live and work with the women while she did her research. Then, she explained the development for the methodology of her thesaurus project and how she conceptualized her methods of data collection, which consisted of conducting a series of interviews with Triqui women who were expert weavers. Using the program Word Smith to analyze the words used during her interviews, Méndez was then able to develop a comprehensive thesaurus of Triqui-Spanish terms related to traditional weaving techniques, designs and lore.

Maida Watson spoke about her research on 19th century women writers and journalists in Perú, outside of the capital of Lima. She spoke of several women authors, including Carolina Freyre de Jaimes, perhaps one of the best known Peruvian female writers of her time. Freyre de Jaimes wrote in many of the leading Peruvian newspapers and journals of her time, during the era of a male-dominated profession. Watson then spoke to the social clubs, called tertulias that educated, leading women of Perú formed because they were not invited to be a part of the men’s clubs. In these female spaces, the women were able discuss their intellectual pursuits and writing freely. According to Watson, because of their involvement in intellectual spheres and contributions to newspapers and periodicals, women in Perú enjoyed more freedom of expression and work than their elite counterparts in Spain.

Questions

Peter Johnson (Princeton University) asked Marco Israel Quic about the recent case of Ríos Montt being convicted of human rights violations in Guatemala and the responsibilities that libraries had in making information available to people about such topics. Quic answered that his library turned on the television but there was no work to save or diffuse the information.

Barbara Tennenbaum (Library of Congress) asked Patricia Méndez if she verified if the answers she got during her interviews were true and how much time she was in the community. Méndez replied that she had an entrance to the community through women she had previously worked with on another project and that she was able to be in the community for her thesaurus project several times for short periods and was able to share her final product with the women.

Ellen Jaramillo (Yale University) asked Marco Israel Quic about the reactions that parents had of their children using the libraries. Quic responded that the great majority of the parents supported their children learning from elders in the library and that only a few people had asked that the elders not participate in the library programs without compensation. Normally, however, the work that the libraries do with the community is very accepted.

Sócrates Silva (UC Santa Barbara) asked Israel Marco Quic how to acquire the children’s books his library published. Quic explained that they were available as supplements in newspapers and that the Guatemalan government was publishing three titles for a literacy program at the national level.

Gayle Williams (Florida International University) asked Maida Watson if women writers in 19th century Perú were writing at all about voting rights for women. Watson responded that the women in Perú at the time were not very worried about voting rights, that they were more interested in the rights to work professionally.

Panel 1, June 18, 2012, 11:30 am-1:00 pm
Moderator: Wendy Pedersen (University of New Mexico)
Presenters: Pablo Delano (Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut); Jolie Rajah and Georgia Alexander (The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago); Gabrielle M. Toth (Chicago State University)
Rapporteur: Ellen Jaramillo (Yale University)

Imaging Trinidad: Art, Activism, Archive / Pablo Delano (Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut)

Delano began in saying that he has spent a large amount of time in Trinidad over the last fifteen years.  In 2008 he published “In Trinidad: Photographs by Pablo Delano”, a book of black and white photographs that tries to capture the essence of a uniquely intercultural society at work, worship and at play.  He displayed photos from the book throughout his talk, wherein he explored some of the issues around being a practicing artist/documentarian.
Trinidad struck a chord with him from the time of his first visit in 1997.  The drumming he heard during Carnival in Port-of-Spain was essentially the bomba drumming done by Afro-descendants in Delano’s native Puerto Rico.  He thought: how is it that Puerto Rico has sent a delegation of bomba drummers to Trinidad and Tobago?  Well, he said, they hadn’t; this was bomba drumming from where it originated, in Africa.  He felt because of his Caribbean upbringing that he had an inherent understanding of Trinidad, but at the same time also felt as though he were in a foreign place because of the East Indian presence, which is not found in Puerto Rico or in other parts of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.  Delano stated that we’re all products of this colonization which began with Columbus, but has taken varying forms throughout the Caribbean.  For example, he was very taken with the huge influx of sailors in Trinidad during World War II, and the incidence of “Sailor Mas” during Carnival.  He calls Trinidad a country of tremendous visual contrasts that demonstrates a high level of “convivencia”, a word that he feels doesn’t translate well from Spanish: “It’s a kind of balance where people have found a way to live with each other.  Convivencia allows for disputes and feuds but there is nevertheless a kind of coexistence.  Coming from my background in Puerto Rico, where everything artistic is politicized, I was very taken with the way Trinidad has identified the arts as a way to build a post-colonial identity.  All artists, especially documentary practitioners, have something of the archivist in them.  When your subjects bring out family photos, what do you do with them?”  Delano’s response was to photograph the photographs, and return the originals to the family, but he thinks that the idea of setting up a databank of photographs that people have kept in their families could prove to be an extraordinary resource, an incredible treasure trove of vernacular photography.  He’d like to delve further into the relationship between archivist and arts practitioner, because one thing that is most obvious when one does this kind of work is that one inevitably documents things which will change, because the subjects die.  In looking back over the last fifteen years of photographs that he’s taken in Trinidad, he thinks some may not be his best work from an artistic standpoint, but the photos memorialize people who have made huge contributions to this culture and to this island.  He thought he’d use this opportunity to throw out these questions about what the relationships are between practicing artists who are compelled to document the images they see around them, and archives.  Where will all these images end up?  He doesn’t know what to do with all the photographs he’s taken, or with the old postcards he’s bought on E-bay, some of which are quite unique.  Delano is still dealing with the archives of his parents, who were artists in Puerto Rico.  He concluded with the hope that practicing artists and archivists find more common ground and ways to work together to make sure that these kinds of materials are not lost.

The Writing is on the Wall: Graffiti as Social Commentary in Trinidad and Tobago / Jolie Rajah and Georgia Alexander (University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago)

Rajah began by saying that as soon as they heard the theme for this conference, graffiti immediately came to mind.  They recalled a lot of graffiti in the urban areas of Trinidad and Tobago, especially in Woodbrook and Port-of-Spain, and saw graffiti every day on the UWI, Saint Augustine campus.  She noted a lack of academic research in this area and they thought that they could contribute to this body of knowledge.  By way of introduction for those who don’t know much about graffiti, they provided a few definitions.  One identifies graffiti as intrusive, emblematic and opportunistic, a form of popular protest, a people’s art.  The second identifies graffiti as a form of communication that is both personal and free.  It offers intriguing insights into people and the society to which they belong.  Graffiti has a rich and ancient history, dating back to prehistoric man, and ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome [displayed slides up through 1960’s and 1970’s wall tagging].  The 1980’s marked the worldwide spread of graffiti.  Hip Hop identified with the art form, and mass media played a role in spreading it from New York around the world, including Trinidad. There are two types of graffiti: the public and the private.  The focus of their presentation was on public graffiti, and Rajah pointed out that in Trinidad and Tobago, graffiti is illegal.

Graffiti has a language of its own.  “Tagger” is the person doing the graffiti.  “Bomb” is the act of going out and doing graffiti.  “Tag” is your name or nom-de-plume, written up on a wall (and may identify your work).  A “throw-up” is a piece on a wall in which someone puts their tag or a few letters, in some colors or in an outline, to show that they were there, to take up space to grab attention.  There is a lot of literature about graffiti, particularly in North America and Europe.  Some of it focuses on whether graffiti is art, vandalism, or visual pollution.  Rajah spoke of graffiti as communication, and of its role in the culture, saying: “We are all actively involved in the communication process, whether we are sender, receiver, the source, or the destination, or bring something to bear when we look at or construct a message.  Graffiti represents a communicated opportunity, and reveals something about the society in which the artist lives.”
Alexander went on to profile some graffiti found in Trinidad, some of which no longer exists.  They secured the
permission of someone who has photographed graffiti throughout Trinidad to display these works.  Some of the tags (or names) of local graffiti artists give food for thought (Ghost, Craze, Louse, etc.) and she showed numerous examples of spray-painted and some of pasted and of stenciled graffiti.  One that particularly impressed the audience was of the early construction of the National Academy of the Performing Arts where our host reception will take place.  There had been controversy in the local media on the government’s decision to award the construction contract to a non-Trinbagonian company.  The slide showed the security wall surrounding the construction site on which was stenciled the words: Made in China.
Alexander showed a video on the work of the artist Mamph, wondering what roles librarians could play in capturing and preserving these kinds of works.  Little has been documented so far.  One is the Urban Heartbeat project, encountering art in public spaces.  One event took place in Queen’s Park, TrinidadAnother site that nicely displays Trinidad graffiti art, but in talking with the site owner, she mentioned that he is thinking of taking it down due to there being little traffic on the site.  Another interesting site is Alice Yard, an artistic space in Woodbrook that is used for various types of artists to display their work.  She noted that perhaps one way libraries can help to preserve this transient art is to adopt sites like these.
Rajah and Alexander created an on-going, open-ended questionnaire using Google.docs, which is a work-in-progress. They posted on social media, sent mass emails, nagged, harassed, and begged local artists to respond. (Because of the nature of graffiti and its illegality in Trinidad and Tobago, many prefer to remain anonymous).  They learned that many refer to themselves with terms like bomber, paster, etc., based upon the media that they employ.  They asked what materials they used, at what times of day (generally early hours) and where they prefer to do graffiti.  Respondents said that their themes are mostly taken from their own creativity and from social, political and environmental issues.  They noted that through their work as artists, because they consider themselves artists, or social activists in some cases, they hope to change people’s interpretation and understanding of graffiti.  They also hope to provoke thought and to make art more accessible to the public, who in some cases would never visit an art museum or gallery, or to get the public to pay attention to certain social or political issues.  This is their way of raising awareness.   The majority of respondents thought that there should be designated legitimate spaces where graffiti art could be legally displayed, and that it should be captured for future appreciation, examination and study.

Art, the Americas, Abstracting and Archiving: Documents of 20th Century Latin American and Latino Art: A Digital Archive and Publications Project / Gabrielle M. Toth (Chicago State University)

Toth began by saying that she has the good fortune to serve as a research assistant for this project.  She provides indexing and abstracting of documents pertaining to Latin American and Latino art, specifically governing the U.S. Midwest.  As an example she showed a slide of a letter of thanks for a presentation on “Posada: Printmaker to the Mexican People,” an exhibition held at the Art Institute of Chicago in the spring of 1944.  This was the first major showing of Posada’s work in the U.S. [José Guadalupe Posada, 1852-1913]. The project digitized a gorgeous catalog of the exhibition, and a corrido she found that was written in honor of this event, and which refers to Chicago’s gangster heritage: “Corrido of the Coming of Don José Guadalupe Posada to the Famous North American City of Chicago,” which includes a verse that reads: “In the book by these two professors it tells how Don Lupe hated crime.  Had he come here in our 1920’s, he’d have had a magnificent time.”
The documents in this archive cover high art, low art, formal art, activist art, and everything in between, across the Americas.  In January 2012, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, in collaboration with its research institute, the International Center for Arts of the Americas (ICAA), launched the book series “Documents of 20th Century Latin American and Latino Art.”
The Museum of Fine Arts and the ICAA have devoted ten years and approximately $50,000,000 to the recovery and publication of primary source materials related to 20th century Latin American and Latino art.  The launch in January is the first phase of the archive which will ultimately feature more than 10,000 primary source materials hunted down by hundreds of researchers in 16 cities throughout the Western Hemisphere.  There are currently about 200,000 documents from Argentina, Mexico and the American Midwest.  All of the documents should be available by 2015 and the website will continue to develop over time.  It will continue in perpetuity, making it an indispensable archive of Latin American and Latino art.  Along with the online archive, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Yale University Press will co-publish a series of thirteen books, called: Critical Documents of 20th Century Latin American and Latino Art.  Some of the documents in this archive will be translated into English and organized by theme, so that the documents will be accessible to the non-Spanish speaking generalist (think: the undergraduate student at many of our institutions) as well as the higher-level researcher.  The books and the archive will refer to each other, so that a researcher can see something in the book and then go to the archive to find the full document in its original language.  Toth played a video in which the founder and director talks about the project.  In the spirit of social justice, this archive in many instances brings to light artists or regions which were neglected in the past.  In addition, the project seeks to remind everyone that Latin American and Latino art are not merely derivative or flow from European art but they bring great contributions and encapsulate some of these major art movements in and of themselves.
The project had a three-pronged approach.  The first phase was a recovery process where various researchers looked for missing or unknown documents.  Once the documents were found, assistants indexed and abstracted the articles or documents, which were turned into local units and were later sent to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.  The Museum sought permissions and had the documents digitized, and had the information put into the database.  Toth demonstrated the database and pulled up an article she had worked on, by Victor Sorell, who taught at Chicago State University for over 40 years and has recently retired.  It shows the citation information, and a brief synopsis of the article.  Sorell is one of the editors of the book series and was overwhelmed by the amount of material he found.  Toth became involved when Sorell heard her speak on Chicago’s Latino community (incidentally it was a paper she had given at a previous SALALM conference).  He said who better to index and abstract these articles than a librarian familiar with Midwest Latino communities?  She was grateful to be of assistance and was able to learn a lot about art. As a librarian, she expected there to be some kind of thesaurus or some guidelines as to how to handle these documents.  There being none, she was given free reign to index every word that she thought important.  Toth said that she didn’t know much about art, so she assumed that every word could be important.  For example, our previous presenters talked about the materials artists used, both paint and spray paint.  Toth said she would have agonized: are they the same, are they different, so she would have indexed them both.  As a Chicagoan she would recognize local names, like Mayor Daley.  Neither the first nor the second Mayor Daley was at all artistic, but they were mentioned and scholars at some point might find this kind of information useful, so she put that down.  Another thing was that Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and of neighborhoods within neighborhoods, whose names may change over time.  For example, she ran across mention of “La Villita” a neighborhood which is currently primarily a Mexican neighborhood.  It was once known as “Little Village” and earlier as “South Lawndale.”  Which name should be noted?  She put them all down.  She wanted to make sure that whoever wants to access this will be able to find the information.
Toth said it was interesting to see how the work that she did later appeared in the database.  She showed examples of the forms she filled out about each document, which helped to populate the database.  They show the numerous descriptors that she assigned, and a brief abstract (they were told to be brief).  She then showed the resulting database entry where many of the descriptors had been stripped, and the abstract has been expanded by someone more knowledgeable about art, who had added a lot of specific commentary which helps put the artist’s work into a broader context.  Again, a social justice aspect of this is recovering and publicizing the fact that there are Latino artists in Chicago, and in Gary, Indiana, and in other tiny little hamlets all over the Midwest.  The project gave voice to a lot of artists, collectives and groups active in the Chicago area in the 1970’s.  Toth ended by urging all to have a look at this database, pointing out that it’s very easy to search, and it’s all free.

Questions:

T.K. Sangwand (University of Texas at Austin): I was hoping you could talk a little bit about the demographics of the graffiti artists and if you were able to distinguish any sort of stylistics in the social theme patterns among the different demographic groups.
Rajah: What I have noticed is that it’s generally thought that graffiti is a young person’s thing.  Of the ten graffiti artists we’ve interviewed so far, out of the eighteen that we know exist, five of them were over 26.  What we didn’t mention in the presentation is that there are crews, loosely-based groups, many of whom are all under 26.  They tend to be taggers, the most basic style. As they hone their art, they deal with more themes. Mamph, for example, is in his forties.

T.K. Sangwand (University of Texas at Austin): What is the gender ratio?

Rajah: I had thought it was only men and was surprised to find that two of our respondents were women, and there is another we haven’t met yet, who we suspect is a woman.  Georgia asked me to mention the artist “Rap 868.” “868” is the area code for all of Trinidad and Tobago.  One of the artists we spoke with said that using this as a tag is neutral: it doesn’t identify, race, gender, color, class, etc.

Jeff Staiger (U. Oregon): You mentioned providing legitimate spaces for the graffiti; could you elaborate?  My initial reaction was that transgression is of the essence and once you provide sanctioned spaces, you’ve neutralized it or contained it. How do the artists feel?
Alexander: They said that there’s definitely a need for space for young people to express themselves.  One respondent said that you can provide space, but someone may push the envelope and cause trouble for everyone else.  People may still seek to go outside of those spaces to get the thrill factor.

Toth: I have a question: In Chicago graffiti is a problem, but we also have murals.  Some of what you’ve shown appears muralistic.  Chicago spends a lot of money quickly painting over graffiti, because they see graffiti as the first step in horrific crime coming into a neighborhood.  How is balance achieved between the artist and the state?

Alexander: Graffiti is a form of protest.  To legitimize it allows the protest, but at the same time there’s that
adrenaline rush of doing something risky, the thrill of being caught, etc.  There’ll always be that aspect because some of it is considered vandalism.  Art is open to interpretation: who’s looking and what do you perceive it to be, so that is a message in itself.
Rajah: There isn’t a clear-cut answer; that’s a chance we take, but by putting up a space for it, it sends the message that we embrace graffiti as a form of art.

Barbara Robinson (University of Southern California): In Los Angeles we’ve had a large mural movement. Graffiti taggers have actually destroyed a lot of the murals, requiring them to be painted over because they were so defaced.  The images you’ve shown seem to me to be more like murals, not at all what we’re used to seeing in L.A., which seems to be put up to merely show that they’ve been there.  The beautiful murals that were there for 20 years are now gone.

Alexander: That’s happened in Trinidad, too.  There’s the deviant aspect – the gang-related, focused more in certain more dangerous areas.  But sometimes it’s a dialogue between artists.  You don’t know the identity of who has left something and the only way you can comment is by writing on that piece.

Robinson: After they got rid of the murals that had been defaced, they created a hanging that shows the previous mural, but it’s not affixed to the wall.  They’re attached temporarily so if someone destroys the hanging it can be removed.

Alexander: These people are obviously venting, so maybe there should be designated space for graffiti.

Delano: It’s not easy to draw a line between the so-called “good” graffiti and the so-called “bad” graffiti. Even the so-called “good” graffiti comes from a history of transgression.  For example, in Hartford, Connecticut, there is an old art-deco building called the Beacon Lighting Company and this building was plagued by graffiti. Finally the management decided to reach out to the taggers and commission them to do a mural.  They ended up with a beautiful mural, with the name of the company.  Where you place that is kind of complicated.  Another example is Barcelona, a city filled with spectacular graffiti that overall respects the stone.  The graffiti is on the steel gates and stops at the ancient stone walls. It’s a delicate balance. Sometimes when taggers hit established graffiti, they don’t think that they are defacing it; they think they’re adding or becoming part of it.

Toth: In Chicago, the murals were threatened by urban renewal.  This speaks to quality art versus non-quality.  If part of the project is to have the community involved, it means that all sectors should be involved.

Rachel [Dean?] (NALIS, National Library and Information System Authority, T&T): Just a statement in regards to graffiti: one of the artists you mentioned, Clinton, is exhibiting and selling his graffiti.

Rajah: Some of the artists are becoming quite sought-after and have been asked to do things like sneakers, air-brushing them graffiti-style, etc.

Alexander: Graffiti is becoming quite commercial here and is showing a positive social message.

SALALM LVII
Saturday,  June 16, 2012      9:00-10:00 a.m.
Flamingo Room, Hilton-Trinidad Hotel, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago

** Thanks to Sarah Leroy (University of Pittsburgh), for kindly offering to take notes for the minutes. **
Attending: Claire-Lise B’enaud (University of New Mexico), Peter Bushnell (UFl-Gainesville), Nancy Hallock (Harvard), Ellen Jaramillo (Yale, Chair), Sarah Leroy (University of Pittsburgh), Sara Levinson (UNC-Chapel Hill), Ferolyn Meyer (Library of Congrses), Carlos Olave (Library of Congress), Wendy Pedersen (University of New Mexico), Stephanie Rocio Miles (IADB), Brenda Salem (University of Pittsburgh), Cecilia Serc’an (Cornell University), John Wright (Brigham Young University)

At last year’s meeting, John Wright described the RDA beta testing at Brigham Young University Library, including how they prepared staff and equipment for RDA implementation.  When we asked on LALA-L for agenda items for today, several members suggested that we use this meeting to find out what each of our institutions’ plans are for moving (or not) to using RDA.  They asked to hear specifics—what training plans they may have, when they hope to begin, etc.

  • Yale has been participating in the numerous ALCTS webinars and very recently, the Library of Congress webinars.  A home-grown training program began in late April 2012 (4-6 hrs/wk, 8 weeks in duration).  Catalog librarians are beginning to create RDA records, which will be reviewed and then exported to OCLC (they catalog in Voyager).  They’ve just begun RDA NACO training.  RDA training for non-Roman alphabet catalogers will take place during the summer.
  • University of Florida has had a few webinars already and will switch when the time comes.  (P. Bushnell has been learning RDA by reading the manual).
  • Cornell  has a training committee that has watched and edited the ALCTS webinars, then showed them to staff.  They catalog in RDA one day per week.  The training committee revises the work of others and has their own records revised as well.  Everything will be cataloged using RDA as of September or October, once the NACO training is done.
  • University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill  has had webinars for a year or so and has been discussing RDA.  NACO training will take place this fall, after which all authority records will use RDA. After that, everyone will be trained to do bib records using RDA.
  • Library of Congress  training began in June with supervisors and reviewers.  Once trained, a person works in RDA and everyone’s work is reviewed.  Training involves classes three days a week, and those being trained can’t take leave for the entire month of July.  It has been quite stressful.
  • Brigham Young  training started early, as they were an RDA test site.  They never stopped using RDA after the test phase, and production is back up to normal now.  The learning curve is several months in duration.  Everything is cataloged in RDA except the occasional special project, such as the Chiapas anthropology project of around 5,000 items.
  • University of New Mexico cataloging staffing has diminished steadily over the years.  Many of their catalogers will be retiring within the next few years, and will not be replaced.  Plans for RDA are unclear.

Ellen brought up the possibility of hosting/creating a pre-conference workshop at next year’s conference to explain RDA to our non-cataloger colleagues.  This will be discussed in the Libreros Workshop taking place this afternoon.
Committee members then said whether they were still doing priority cataloging of materials from assigned countries.  Harvard is still concentrating on Colombia; Cornell on Peru and Brazil; the University of Florida on the Caribbean; and the University of Pittsburgh on Bolivia, Brazil and Cuba.  There was discussion about how in all of our institutions, catalogers are generally not being replaced as they retire/depart, and cataloging staffing is diminishing at an alarming rate everywhere.

Brenda Salem (University Pittsburgh) has agreed to serve as Subcommittee Chair for 2012-2015.

 

 

Panel 4, May 30 2011, 2:00 pm-3:30 pm
Moderator: Rhonda Neugebauer, University of California, Riverside
Presenter: Shamina de Gonzaga, what moves you?
Rapporteur: Ellen Jaramillo, Yale University

Indocumentales/Undocumentaries (http://indocumentales.com/) is an itinerant film and dialogue series on immigration and related issues. This U.S./Mexico Interdependent Film Series was founded by three organizations located in New York City: what moves you?, Cinema Tropical and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) at New York University. “Academics, journalists, policy makers, migrants, artists, activists, students, film makers, librarians and the general public gather to discuss the topics raised by each documentary film. Each event is ‘done in’ collaboration with partner organizations and venues that involve their local communities in the dialogue. Indocumentales provides educational resources and an interactive network so that people have an opportunity to engage, come away more informed on the issues and have an impact”. [From their website]

Shamina de Gonzaga: When we present these films we usually compile a panel of discussants who can speak to the issues highlighted in the film. We actually inaugurated the film series with this film. This film is a lot about music and a lot about drugs, so we had at the time the head of the Drug Policy Alliance who gave his perspective on drug policy, we had Mexican musicians who play in the subways [for donations] in New York, who gave their perspectives on earning their livings in the U.S. in that way, and we had representatives of the Mexican Cultural Institute, a part of the Mexican government, who can only say so much because of who they are. This is a particularly enjoyable film to watch; the music makes the subject not quite as heavy, but rich in content.  Maybe Carlos [Gutiérrez, of Cinema Tropical] can give some more background.

Carlos Gutiérrez: This is the first film by Natalia Almada, who has made three films to date and is representative of the new generation of Latin American documentary film makers. The film premiered in 2005 at the Tribeca Film Festival. I think this is an important film on the subject of illegal immigrants because most other films treat immigrants as victims, and when you victimize the subjects of a film you treat the audience as superiors, and there is no one-to-one connection to the story. What Natalia does here is engage with the personal stories of what forced people to migrate. Natalia was one of the first ones to bring the issue of drug trafficking to immigration issues. Another thing I admire is that she puts immigration within a larger cultural context, in this case with narcocorridos, and that presents a richer panorama of all the issues involved.

Questions & Comments:

Adán Griego (Stanford University): Is this film available for purchase?

Gutiérrez: Yes! And if you buy it through Indocumentales, we provide an educational resource package.

de Gonzaga: A lot of this filmmaker’s work is done at personal risk. You don’t just get in the middle of a group of narco-traffickers and start filming them, but she does. Do you all see a lot of interest with the students or the faculty in your institutions in these issues?  Part of it is finding the demand, what’s available on these issues in the mainstream media is pretty limited.  That you all are working with people who want to find out more about this has a tremendous richness.

Rhonda Neugebauer: Yes, they come to us. The films really reach people, so much differently.

Griego: Audio-visuals are a very good supplement to any course reader because you can only read so much. We receive multiple-entity generations where probably the written word is not their primary medium of experiences.

Neugebauer: Do you have any connection with the Chiapas Media Project?

Gutiérrez: I know her work for many years. The problem is to find the channels to make it to the United States. What happens is that film makers are placed in the role of also being educators. In many instances they don’t give much information about the context and people become uncomfortable because they don’t know the elements, and so that work gets placed on the film maker. That may be why a lot of films don’t get distributed, because they ask the film maker to contextualize the work. A typical question posed during film festivals is “What was your target audience?”, as if to say they were not engaged with your films so they weren’t meant for them.

de Gonzaga: Sometimes I think these films are more relevant for the people who don’t know. For example, with the [Almada's second] film “Los Que Se Quedan,” the directors were traveling it around Mexico to different communities, basically showing people a reflection of their own stories. People had mixed reactions and they didn’t have the contexts, but they need to be seeing these films because it brings the questions to the surface. How do we get people to care, to feel connected? If people can feel a personal relationship to the issues that opens up a whole other avenue for greater interest that goes beyond the films.

Gutiérrez: Another thing about these films, last week the state of Sinaloa actually banned playing narcocorridos because they glorify drug trafficking.

de Gonzaga: I’m sure that will be really effective…

Gutiérrez: But then again they show something like “La Reina del Sur” [a telenovela that depicts a Sinaloan woman who becomes the most powerful drug trafficker in southern Spain] so there is a whole divide in the culture along what glorifies and what does not.

[Film plays] “AL OTRO LADO” (Natalia Almada, US/Mexico, 2005, 66 min. In Spanish with English subtitles) tells the human story behind illegal immigration and drug trafficking between the U.S. and Mexico through the eyes of Magdiel, a 23-year-old fisherman and aspiring composer who dreams of a better life. Due to lack of work and low fishing yields, many cross over, and like many in Sinaloa, the drug capital of Mexico, Magdiel faces two choices to better his life: trafficking drugs or crossing the border into the United States. For people south of the border, the “other side” is the dream of an impossibly rich United States, where even menial jobs can support families and whole communities that have been left behind. For people north of the border, “AL OTRO LADO” sheds light on the harsh choices that their neighbors to the south often face because of economic crisis.

Magdiel, however, has a special talent that could be his ticket out: composing corridos – songs about the narcotics underworld and undocumented immigrant life. For over 200 years, corridos have been Mexico’s musical underground newspaper and the voice of those rarely heard outside their communities. From Sinaloa to the streets of East Los Angeles, this film explores the world of drug smuggling, immigration and the corrido music that chronicles it all. If you really want to understand what is happening on the US/Mexico border, listen to the corridos, ballads that have become the voice of people whose views are rarely heard in mainstream media.

Questions & Comments:

Nancy Hallock (Harvard University): What happened to him [Magdiel, the protagonist]?

Gutiérrez: The film maker made a point of leaving it completely open. It’s the story of many people. Actually he made it to the U.S., but not on this trip. He got caught in a sweep, tried several other times, and eventually made it. The last time I heard from him, he was working in Las Vegas.

Claire-Lise Bénaud (University of New Mexico): Has it been shown in Mexico, and what was its reception?

Gutiérrez: Yes, it’s been shown in Mexico, in film festivals, and tours of documentaries. Migration is a rarely-discussed topic in Mexico City, for example. The debate is sort of creepy sometimes.

de Gonzaga: It goes across class lines to such an extent. I was with a colleague in New York, interviewing Mexicans of all different backgrounds and we had a question from one girl asking is it international cooperation when Mexican and American coyotes work together to get people across the border? You have U.S. citizens who do that kind of work, too. I was in a hotel in Mexico and none of the upper-middle class people I was working with were interested in this, but the woman cleaning the hotel room asked about it, because she, like many others, had an ex-husband who left her and stayed in the U. S. and another husband who went and wanted her to come. It’s such a common story for so many people, and yet for the segment of the population that can go to the U.S. whenever they want, it’s a hard conversation to have. One of our goals with this series is to take these discussions and have them over there, and try to create a space where people who are coming from very different places engage with each other. One of the things I love in this movie is the notion that appears in several songs, about “I didn’t cross the border, the border crossed me,” and that’s something from a U.S. perspective that a lot of people take for granted that the borders are what they are, but that maybe for people who have been living in border areas for hundreds of years, that’s not so obvious. What you all are doing in terms of historical archiving and providing people with a broader spectrum to consider situations through is really important for all of us.

Patricia Figueroa (Brown University): Have these films been shown in the border areas?

Gutiérrez: We’re in the process of taking the whole series, the five films, to Arizona in the fall. We’ve screened one of them: “Los Que Se Quedan” in Tucson in March, and people reacted pretty well. Actually, Tucson is a fairly liberal town; we want to take it to Phoenix.

Figueroa: Have you heard perspectives from people who are very much against it [illegal immigration]?

Gutiérrez: Yes. We’re expecting more when we take it to Phoenix.

de Gonzaga: My feeling is that we sometimes have people in the audience who are not very sympathetic to the situation of migrants but who don’t share their perspective. Most of the people who come to these screenings are more sympathetic to the issue, so it creates a dynamic where people who don’t share these views will not necessarily express themselves. Part of the goal is to create a space where people with very different opinions can come together and feel safe enough to express their opinions in a respectful manner. It’s so easy just to stick with one’s own view, but the human aspect opens a doorway and it’s a conversation that has to happen, and that regular people have to be a part of.

SALALM LVI
Sunday, May 29, 2011  10:30am – 12:00pm

The Subcommittee sponsored a “Libreros Workshop” which was held immediately prior to this meeting. The Workshop was created in response to requests by some libreros at last year’s conference for support in the technical services.  Tony Harvell (UCSD) gave a presentation on EDI (electronic data interchange) and Stephanie Rocío Miles (IADB) demonstrated the “Libreros SALALM” website she created.  This website contains links to training materials, videos, etc. that could be of use to libreros in creating bibliographic records and in learning about emerging acquisitions services. A lively discussion followed. Those who attended reviewed the Workshop expressed interest in continuing this collaboration with the libreros.  We will continue building the website and designing bibliographic and technological training for presentation at future conferences; these are things that catalogers can help to provide in support of the libreros’ work. John Wright (BYU) described Brigham Young University’s experiences as a beta test site for RDA implementation, focusing on preparing staff and highlighting best practices.  He demonstrated the RDA Toolkit, and following discussion of RDA, there was a brief demonstration of VIAF (Virtual International Authority Database).

 

Ellen Jaramillo
Yale University