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Panel 12, Tuesday May 31, 2011, 2:00 pm-3:30 pm
Moderator: Silvia Mejia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Presenters: Marisol Ramos, University of Connecticut; T-Kay Sangwand, The University of Texas at Austin; and Joel Blanco-Rivera, University of Pittsburgh
Rapporteur: Suzanne Schadl, University of New Mexico
The first presentation, Sharing Archives: The P.R. Civil Court Cases Collection Digital Project, by Marisol Ramos of the University of Connecticut (UConn) offered digitization of the Puerto Rican Civil Court Cases Collection as a solution for colonialist ownership of cultural heritage collections in tenuous political environments. Ramos noted that this collection, purchased by UConn in 2002 (before her appointment), actually belonged in the National Archive in Puerto Rico. Upon its establishment in 1955, it became the repository for all government records from the Spanish period to the present. Even so, and through legal means, these documents were in the custody of UConn when she began working there. Because of strict Connecticut state laws prohibiting the deaccession of materials bought by the state, this 19th century collection could not be returned to Puerto Rico. To make matters worse, the fragility of the documents within this collection prohibited making photocopies to share access with the country of provenance.
In 2007, Ramos became concerned with how best to address the moral and ethical obligation to provide Puerto Ricans access to this collection. She saw it as part of the Puerto Rican national and cultural heritage. As a Puerto Rican who had worked in and collaborated with staff at the National Archive in Puerto Rico, Ramos felt even more obligated to identify a solution to the problem of U.S. universities ending up with collections far from their countries of origin. After offering a snapshot of several cases in which donations, purchases, deaths, and/or other events led to document drains, Ramos addressed the difficult historical relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. In so doing, she situated their relationship within studies of colonialism. Ramos noted that as a political appointee embroiled in this difficult connection, it would be ill-advised for the director of the National Archive in Puerto Rico to formally demand that documents be returned to Puerto Rico. The rotating nature of such political positions would make this endeavor even more complicated.
Ramos proposed intervention from archivists and librarians in the United States holding cultural heritage collections. She then outlined the UConn project, and announced that the Latin American Microforms Project (LAMP) had agreed to help fund the initiative. Ramos noted that once digitized, by May 2012 all of the documents in the Puerto Rican Civil Court Cases Collection would be shared through the Internet Archive. Ramos noted that while this solution did not return documents to their country of origin, it did offer access. It also successfully bypassed University funding politics and spoke to the difficulties of cross national/institutional ownership of cultural heritage collections in a tenuous funding situation and in a complicated political environment.
In the second presentation, Tejiendo la Memoria: Strengthening Collective Memory of El Salvador’s Civil War through Transnational Digitization Partnerships, T-Kay Sangwand (The University of Texas at Austin) proposed a Distributed Archival Model as an alternative to problematic traditional methods of archival possession. She argued that the partnership based model of transnational digitization could empower record and access creators by enabling them to retain, expand, and share access while also learning useful techniques in digital preservation.
Sangwand began by presenting the Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) at UT (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/hrdi). This program serves as the umbrella under which her primary focus, the Tejiendo la Memoria project, evolved. Sangwand noted that HRDI emerged out of the collective effort in which activists, scholars, and organizations together with the University of Texas Libraries (UTL) began to identify threatened electronic and analog resources for preservation. They sought to save the most fragile records of international human rights struggles and promote their security through archival availability, human rights research and continued advocacy. A generous grant from the Bridgeway Foundation in 2008 led to the establishment of the HRDI, which Sangwand noted currently engages in transnational collaborative projects to preserve and make accessible the historical record of genocide and human rights violations throughout the world.
Sangwand presented UT Austin’s work with the Radio Venceremos Archive at the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (Museum of Word and Image) in El Salvador as an example of implementing a Distributive Archival Model. Radio Venceremos traveled with the FMLN during the El Salvadoran Civil War and denounced human rights abuses. Sangwand noted that this medium also became an important means for popular education. After the war ended, Radio Venceremos had 1,270 fragile tapes containing personal testimonies. Needless to say, the Museum Word and Image was reluctant to give UT Austin temporary custody of these important records, and understandably so, especially considering the political history between the United States and El Salvador. UT Austin chose, thus, to use collection development funds in order to send equipment and trainers to the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen with the express purpose of acquiring this digital collection.
UT Austin employees provided training in digital preservation techniques and metadata standards and Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen archivists began to digitize and describe the collection. Custody never changed hands and each party had the opportunity to contribute their expertise to the project. UT Austin and the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen agreed to share the digital copies archived in a server at UT Austin. The original Radio Venceremos tapes remained in El Salvador. The funding formula used in this experimental acquisition involved calculating the staff costs of two employees processing this collection over two years’ time. UT Austin agreed to pay 2/3 of the cost while the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen covered 1/3. Sangwand concluded by sharing a clip of a sole survivor’s testimonial in these audio files.
In the third presentation, Declassification and Accountability for Part Abuses: Transitional Justice in Latin America and the Impact of Declassified U.S. Government Documents, Joel Blanco-Rivera (University of Pittsburgh) argued that transitional justice in Latin America requires and is dependent upon access to government documents from the United States. He suggested and offered several examples in which these documents have played important roles in memory-related initiatives throughout Latin America.
Blanco-Rivera began his presentation by placing Latin American requirements for access to U.S. government documents in an international context. He offered a review of cases and literature including reference to the following international efforts to save threatened records: German state security service records in the early 1990s; Paraguayan information on detentions during the Stroessner regime; records from the Guatemalan national police stored in a police building in Mexico City; and very recently, records from the Egyptian state security police. In this last case, Blanco-Rivera stated that protestors successfully used social media to document their demands for saving records as well as for documenting them. He noted that in all of these cases, saving these documents from destruction led to public outcries and increased availability, as in the case of the Archive of Terror. Knowledge of these documents also prompted heightened demands for declassified U.S. government documents, as in the case of Operation Condor.
Building on literature regarding the importance of archivist activism in Human Rights, Blanco-Rivera noted that it was imperative for archivists and human rights activists to take responsibility for preserving several different kinds of archives including transitional archives of former regimes; archives of human rights organizations; archives documenting life during the period; and archives of declassified governments. He reiterated that archival sources enable societies to address legacies of human rights abuses, to institute truth programs, and to implement government reforms and other transitions. Blanco-Rivera highlighted the importance of truth commissions as the main mechanisms for addressing abuses in Latin America. He also argued that such efforts succeeded only after also obtaining declassified U.S. documents. Blanco-Rivera demonstrated that combining Truth Commission reports with the declassification of U.S. documents increased interest in the contradictions between U.S. declassified documents and local documents. He added that this triangulation often opened the door for even greater demands for the release of additional records.
Questions & Comments:
Pamela Graham (Columbia University) asked Sangwand how prevalent the UT Austin model is. She wanted to know if there were other institutions doing similar things and she asked Sangwand if the cost sharing formula UT Austin has used addressed ongoing preservation and maintenance costs. Sangwand stated that she was not aware of any other academic organizations doing something similar but that non-governmental organization were involved in like practices. As for the storage and maintenance costs, she noted that the UT Austin director was supportive of the project as an acquisition and not worried about storage right now. The point was to build an infrastructure for this process to continue in the future. There was an inaudible interjection from the audience on other collections or documents in Mexico.
Ana María Garra asked Blanco-Rivera about his familiarity with a case brought in the U.S. in 1973, which was developed from U.S. documents. He noted that he was familiar with that case and added a few additional examples.
Adrian Johnson (UT Austin) asked Blanco-Rivera if civil judgments help people pursue criminal cases, sort of as a means to ameliorate the reality that a civil conviction rarely results in payment. He wondered if it would be possible to use such a case to revoke citizenship. Blanco-Rivera responded that receiving money was never the end goal. Recognition was most important.
Suzanne Schadl (UNM) asked Ramos and Sangwand if they had to maneuver restrictive bureaucratic funding (such as not recognizing museums as vendors or refusing large reimbursements) to purchase documents in order to get them back to where they belong or to use collections development funds for digital acquisition. Both noted that they had very little difficulty, just increased paper work and communications.
Johnson (UT Austin) asked Ramos if she had any contact with the Puerto Rican Archives since they put this collection into the Internet Archive. He wondered if they were using it. Ramos noted that they were still in the beginning processes of the project and that it would not be live until May 2012.
Adán Benavides (UT Austin) asked Sangwand how feasible it would be to continue these kinds of agreements and how selective they could be in this process. He wanted to know about the long-term sustainability of these projects after the case. Sangwand noted that the library was dedicated to preservation and maintenance costs for these collections, not unlike they would be for other acquisitions. Graham (Columbia University) added that Mellon grants were offering funding for figuring out how to do archiving metadata.
Panel 15, June 1, 2011, 9:00 am-10:30 am
Moderator: Marisol Ramos, University of Connecticut
Presenters: Jared Marchildon, Libros Latinos; Gustavo Castaner, International Monetary Fund, Archivists without Borders, Spain; Irene Münster, University of Maryland; Mark Grover, Brigham Young University
Rapporteur: Barbara Alvarez, University of Michigan
The presentations on this panel documented the struggle against political oppression in Mexico, Spain, Argentina and Chile, and described efforts to preserve memories of that oppression.
“ASARO” , the opening talk by Jared Marchildon gave an account of the presenter’s trips to Oaxaca in January and May 2011, where he went to meet the Asemblea de Artistas Revolucionarios de Oaxaca (ASARO) artists and purchase their prints. Delivered in English and Spanish, with strokes of vivid, visual language, the presentation painted the picture of the life of the ASARO collective, its members Lalo, Yeska, Baltasar, Pacheco, Mario Guzmán, and the creative process that happens in their studios and on the streets of Oaxaca, where they use stencils and graffiti art to express their political resistance. As Marchildon explained, the group formed itself in 2006 when a teachers’ protest turned into a general uprising involving one third of the Oaxacan population. A Japanese artist working at the Instituto de Bellas Artes taught the founding members of ASARO techniques of art protest he had learned in Japan and other countries. ASARO prints and graffiti painfully depict the social and political oppression, the poverty, the submissive state of women, the government’s abuse of power, and promote revolutionary ideals and human solidarity. Yeska and his fellow artists descend from the surrounding hills upon the city to imprint their political message upon the walls. They disguise, hide their spray cans and stencils, and evade police to aid la rebellion through unnerving and denouncing images. The other favorite medium of the ASARO collective are woodcut prints. Many of them are exhibited in Mexico and abroad and many are purchased by collectors and art vendors. The ASARO Blogspot page (http://asar-oaxaca.blogspot.com) features exhibits and works of individual artists, as well as publications and videos about the collective.
The following presentation, “Breaking Down the Wall of Silence: The Archives in the Battle for Retrieving Spain’s Historical Memory,” delivered by Gustavo Castaner, addressed the difficulties of recovering the historical memory of Franco’s regime. According to Castaner, Spain is often referred to as a model transition from dictatorship to democracy. In fact, this transition was achieved through an agreement with the dictator’s followers that guaranteed impunity for them and their crimes. The price of this agreement was silence. A look back after 30 years reveals that Franco’s regime, which was sustained for nearly 40 years, was much more dire than other dictatorships. Thousands of victims of Franco’s brutal repression still lie in forgotten mass graves without any recognition.
In 2007, the Law of Historical Memory was passed in Spain. This law condemns Franco’s regime and prescribes the removal of its symbols from public spaces. It recognizes the victims of violence on both sides of the conflict and ensures the assistance of the government in discovery, identification and exhumation of the bodies buried in mass graves. Archives are a crucial tool for the retrieval of the forgotten memory. Franco’s government kept exhaustive records that are vital to the research of this historical period.
Franquistas practiced a total war and dehumanization of the enemy, the same tactics that were used in the Spanish-Moroccan War (1909-26), such as the use of poison gas, mass executions and rape, and attacks on the civil population. The best known case was Badajoz, where Franco’s troops shot some 2,000-4,000 people in the bull-fight ring after taking the city. Francisco Espinosa Maestre documented in his book the bloody advance of ¨the column of death¨ that executed 10% of inhabitants of each village they had entered. The gang rapes were common, and the franquistas promised white women to the Moors fighting on their side.
Franco’s regime used war edicts as legal instruments in the first year of the war. The deaths of victims were recorded in civil registries as “application of the war edict.” In the following years, court martials took over the legal procedures of the repression. Ironically, people were condemned for aiding the rebellion where, in fact, the military were those who rebelled by organizing a coup d’état. The Law of Political Responsibilities, passed in February 1939, allowed the imposition of penalties such as total disqualification, banishment, exile, total or partial loss of assets and loss of nationality. By September of 1941, the regional tribunals initiated 229,549 such cases.
The violence on the Republican side mainly happened because the government lost control. In Madrid and Barcelona, the anarchists and union members got weapons and started their own revenge. It was estimated that the leftists killed some 85,000 people, but it turns out that a lot of victims were counted more than once. The latest studies account for some 130,000 victims of Franco’s regime.
Franco had an obsession about freemasonry and communism. Special military units searched for documents and collected them in a center in Salamanca. In Barcelona they collected 165 tons of records during five-month search. In Salamanca, 400 tons of records of institutions and organizations were gathered and members of the tribunal produced 3 million index cards with information on specific individuals. Many civil servants lost their jobs, and half a million people were in prison at the end of the war.
In conclusion, Castaner noted that since 2000, the Association for Historical Memory fights to recover the historical records and to exhume mass graves. However, the process is difficult because information is very fragmented and dispersed across the country and it is also difficult to manage and understand for non-experts. The Law of Historical Memory is not applied to its full extent. Resources are not there and the government is not very helpful. Amnesty International Spain published a report called Disaster of Archives and the Privatization of Truth. The latest scandal is the publication of the new Diccionario Biográfico Español in which the entry on Franco is written by his past supporter, and calls him “authoritarian,” without any allusion to the fact that he was a repressive dictator.
Irene Münster‘s presentation, “Memorializing Memories,” took the audience to Argentina under the rule of the military junta of 1976-1983. Based on personal memories, her paper gave an account of the fate of some publishers, bookstores, libraries and community organizers that were active during those turbulent times. When the junta took power, Münster was 20 years old and worked at the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano under the leadership of Marshall Meyer, a young American rabbi.
With absolute impunity, the junta organized a systematic plan to persecute and repress thousands of people in more than 300 clandestine detention centers around the country. Fifteen thousand to thirty thousand people disappeared and 70% of the victims were under the age of 35. Fifteen percent were Jews. The junta aimed to subdue all areas of cultural activity and to impose on the population their moral principles and conservative authoritarian ideology. The Ministerio del Interior enforced censorship, took control of publishing houses and destroyed books. Operación Claridad established in academic centers identified subversive books and teachers who used them. Students and professors alike were pressured to report on each other. Many writers went into exile, others spent time in prison and were tortured, and some disappeared. “Dangerous” books and their authors were registered on a black list. Publishers and bookstores suffered from censorship, books were confiscated and burned, and their owners or vendors were detained or disappeared.
EUDEBA, created in 1958, shortly became the biggest publisher of Spanish language books. In 1974 it was taken over by the Peronist party. In 1976, 15 of its titles were banned and taken to the basement. In February 1977, four military trucks loaded some 80,000-90,000 volumes that subsequently were destroyed. In 1978 the police discovered thousands of books, magazines and encyclopedias of Marxism stored in a warehouse. In August 1980 the police burned 1.5 million books on a vacant lot of land. Witnesses were brought to testify that the books were burned and not stolen. The leftist newspaper La Nueva Presencia was attacked with explosives in 1981.
Marshall Meyer started to fight for human rights against the system, the junta and the Jewish establishment. He spoke to the press and to the community. Soon, he and those who worked with him started to receive death threats almost daily. Every Friday, Meyer went to prisons to provide comfort to Jews and non-Jews alike. He was subjected to the same humiliation as the prisoners. However, he brought back documents and letters to families. The papers needed to be hidden in case of inspection by the authorities. The chosen place was the library, between the huge volumes of Jewish law. This collection, hidden for seven years, is now at the Duke University, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.
Most of the human rights organizations worked to denounce violations committed by the military and offer support to victims and their families. The most prominent were Asemblea Permanente de los Derechos Humanos, founded in 1975, and Movimiento Ecuménico por los Derechos Humanos, founded in 1976. Jews were not persecuted because they were Jews; however, a special vicious treatment was given to them while in prison. Their families did not get any support from Jewish organizations or other human rights organization. Therefore, Movimiento Judío por los Derechos Humanos was founded by Meyer.
Community and university libraries received lists of banned authors. The cards were removed from the catalogs, making their works inaccessible. In the province of Córdoba, the police demanded the borrowing records of community library users. Eighty two writers and 27 librarians are among the disappeared. To protect themselves, many people burned their personal libraries. To have a library was already dangerous because you were considered an intellectual which was synonymous with a leftist thinker. Münster concluded that “the memory of terror still lives among us. Argentina is a country living with its ghosts.”
The last presentation also focused on Argentina’s “Dirty War.” Mark Grover‘s talk “Under Threat: Academics Documenting Human Rights Abuses. The Case of Argentine Professor William Sill” recounted the story of Dr. William Sill, Research Professor and Curator of the Paleontology Museum at the National University of San Juan in western Argentina. Sill is mostly known for the establishment of the Ischigualasto Provincial Park that became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but is also recognized as “a defender of human rights”. Sill studied geology at Brigham Young University (BYU) and the National University of Mexico (UNAM). In 1958, he was sent to Argentina by the LDS Church on a religious mission. He returned to the United States in 1961, graduated from BYU in 1963, and entered Harvard to study vertebrate paleontology. Between 1968 and 1970, he held a post-graduate research and teaching position at Yale University. In 1970 he received a National Science Foundation grant to spend a year at the Instituto Miguel Lillo in Tucumán examining and evaluating a collection of fossils from Ischigualasto. In 1971 the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo created a geology department in San Juan and he was offered a full professorship in paleontology. He and his family moved to San Juan in western Argentina. Soon after, Sill became involved in the creation of the Ischigualasto Provincial Park to protect a unique deposit of fossils from the Triassic period.
Grover interviewed Sill in Buenos Aires in 2001 at the time when the later had just received the Argentine Congressional Medal of Honor. During the interview, Sill passed onto Grover a copy of his diary, written between 1976 and 1979, which documented the kidnapping, torture, death or escape of some of his students and friends. As a scientist, Sill kept detailed records of the events, methods of torture, accounts of abuses and affected victims even though writing of such a diary was very risky. He created a special code to encrypt people’s names to protect their identity. The other parts of the dairy recount the story of two students Sill helped to escape from Argentina and a brief exposition of his philosophical and religious views on what was going on.
Sill was distressed by the violence, helplessness and the lack of opposition in certain sectors of society. The political situation had also a devastating effect on the university. Numerous faculty members were dismissed and 65 students disappeared. Many students came to tell him stories of their arrest and torture. Soon he realized he and his family were in danger. They secretly moved first to a farm in the country and later on to Buenos Aires. The soldiers who searched for him were told that the family moved back to the US. They lived concealed in Argentina for another two years, but eventually they had to leave the country. They arrived in Austin, TX where they remained for ten years, teaching for the Mormon Church and in the Department of Geological Studies at the University of Texas. In 1992 Sill returned to San Juan to work as Curator of Paleontology at the university’s museum. In 2002, seriously affected by muscular dystrophy, Sill moved back to Las Vegas to be near two of his children. His papers were donated to BYU in 2003. He became bedridden in 2004 and passed away at the age of 70 on March 15, 2008.
Questions & Comments:
Pamela Graham (Columbia University) alluded to the point that Spain is considered a model of transition from dictatorship to democracy and to the challenge of moving forward the process of recovery of historical memory. She asked Castaner about the effect that memory recovery movements in other countries may have on Spain. Castaner expressed hope that Spain will learn from the example of other countries, such as truth commissions in South Africa, to address this problem. “As long as we have people abandoned in mass graves […], each closure will be a false one.”
Saturday, May 28, 2011 4:00 – 5:00pm
Present: Adan Griego; Suzanne Schadl; Lief Adleson; Anne Barnhart; Marisol Ramos; Sarah Aponte; Socrates Silva; Barbara Belejack (U of Arizona Lib School Stdt); Alma Ortega (Chair); Berlin Loa (U of Arizona Lib School Stdt); Mercedes Tinoco Espinoza (Enlacista); Graciela Barcala de Moyano (Enlacista); Peter Altekreuger.
1. Action: Everyone who is part of ALZAR will have a chance to vote on the proposed bylaws via e-mail at a later date
2. There have been a variety of issues with the Listserv set up at West Georgia University (WGU). The group decided to create a Yahoo! Groups listserv. Everyone currently on the Facebook group page will be invited by Alma to join the Yahoo! Group.
Action: Alma will create new listserv.
Action: Everyone currently on WGU listserv will be invited to join new list on Yahoo! Groups
3. Marisol Ramos (University of Connecticut) created a Hispano/Latino Resources Google Doc that she shared with the group via LALA-L a few weeks ago but got very little response with that initial announcement.
The goal is to have members of ALZAR fill it out so we can facilitate resource sharing as well as use it when we need to benchmark at our institutions. Anne suggested converting the Google Doc spreadsheet into a form to make it easier to use by those filling it out. The next time this document gets distributed on LALA-L and ALZAR Facebook’s page it will be as a Google Form.
Some felt that some of the questions asked were a bit sensitive when it came to asking for acquisitions spending amounts. On the new ALZAR site it will be possible to create a login so that sensitive information is not readily accessible. The list of resources, such as Libguides and online collections would still remain accessible freely to anyone cruising the ALZAR page.
Action: Marisol will convert the spreadsheet to a form
Action: Marisol will distribute the new form on the ALZAR Facebook page and on LALA-L
4. Newsletter. The group decided that changing the name from Alzar Corner to ALZAR Zone was a good idea. Alma will report this to Daisy Dominguez. There are six (6) issues and we need to be in almost all, if not all, the issues.
Action: Alma to report name change to Newsletter editor
5. Combo meeting. Given the variety of attendance at these meetings from very large to very small, ALZAR wishes to restructure its meetings. There was a general consensus that the ALZAR meeting try to be part business meeting and part presentation or demo of a timely software, resource or program beginning with the meeting held in 2012.
Action: Alma will plan for the next meeting to be half business meeting and half demo meeting
6. Future website. This summer Adán will be migrating the ALZAR page on the SALALM site to a Stanford University server. The new ALZAR site will be managed via Drupal. Suzanne, Marisol and Alma have already worked out what they want to be on the new site regarding the homepage, the mission, goals, etc. This file will be sent electronically to Adán by Suzanne so this work can be incorporated into the new Drupal site.
Action: Adán will migrate the page from the SALALM server
Action: Suzanne will send recommendations for website files to Adán
7. Announcement of new co-chair. Suzanne M. Schadl (University of New Mexico) will be the new co-chair of ALZAR with Alma. Suzannne will be the junior chair/apprentice for 2011-2012.
8. RCL-Latino Studies. Via an e-mail, Ana María Cobos (Saddleback College) announced that there was a need for a new editor/s to oversee the reviews in the RCL. Suzanne volunteered to do it.
Action: Alma will make sure Suzanne and Ana María get in touch during this SALALM meeting.
9. New Business.
Panel for 2012 conference. Marisol charged herself with the effort to organize an ALZAR sponsored panel for the next SALALM meeting. It is hoped that the 2012 theme (Popular Culture) will attract presenters. There were panels in 2008 in New Orleans and 2009 in Berlin, both of which were well attended, but there were not any for 2010 in Providence or 2011 in Philadelphia.
Action: Marisol will put out call for 2012 conference.
TagsAdán Griego Alison Hicks archives Argentina art audiovisual Brenda Salem cataloging Chile Committee Report Constitution and Bylaws Committee Report Daisy V. Domínguez David Block digitization documentaries e-books Ellen Jaramillo Executive Board Meeting Minutes Felipe Varela Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez film Human Rights Interlibrary Cooperation Committee Report John B. Wright John Wright Lynn Shirey Marisol Ramos Martha Mantilla Meiyolet Mendez Melissa Guy Mexico music Pamela Graham Paula Covington Peter Johnson Peter Stern Rafael E. Tarragó rapporteur reports Richard Phillips Roberto C. Delgadillo SALALM56 SALALM57 Sarah Buck Kachaluba Suzanne M. Schadl Teresa Chapa