2016 Opening Session and Keynote Address

SALALM 61 (2016)
Opening Session and Keynote Address
Monday, May 9, 2016

Welcoming remarks:

Paloma Celis Carbajal, SALALM President 2015-2016, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Martha R. Sites, University of Virginia

Fernando Opere, University of Virginia

Miguel Valladares-Llata, SALALM Local Arrangements Committee Chair 2015-2016, University of Virginia

Keynote address:

Dr. Charles R. Hale, Director of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies Collections, University of Texas at Austin

Latin American Studies Unbound: Finding the ‘Sweet Spot’ of Collaboration between Collections and Scholarship/Teaching

Rapporteur: Daisy Domínguez, The City College of New York, CUNY

After the opening remarks, President Celis Carbajal introduced keynote speaker Charles R. Hale, Director of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Hale’s article “The Future of Latin American Studies” (Americas Quarterly, 2014) was one of the texts that inspired her for the conference theme.

Dr. Hale thanked Celis Carbajal for the invitation. The Benson Collection and its librarians have played a big role at SALALM. The LLILAS Benson partnership between faculty and librarians began in 2011. At first, the goal was efficiency and communication, but in time, it has become a space where disciplinary and physical boundaries are transcended as manifested by workflows, projects, and initiatives. Partnerships like this can serve as a blueprint for internationalization of higher education. Idea came from adversity; retirement of Hartness in 2005 resulted in a long search and no director, Hale described growth and shifting of organizational culture assuming new identities as LLILAS Benson. Still lots of ambiguities, or creative tensions, that keep them challenged. LLILAS Benson has created this collaboration but still affirm identity of each. The most emblematic initiatives have resulted not from the leadership team, but from the various actors – librarians, faculty, graduate students, and professional staff – who have the same mission under the same space. Hale discussed four initiatives: Digital Archive of the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive; Archive of the Central American Revolutions; and Primeros Libros Digitization Project; and Latin American Digital Initiatives (LADI). The post-custodial archival forms the centerpiece of the LLILAS archival enterprise and the shift must be achieved collectively through a coalition of Latin American libraries across the country. LLILAS’s guiding principles are to seek horizontal and reciprocal relationships of knowledge production, replacing the imperial gaze from the north, exemplified in the open access movement; ethos of collaboration across intellectual communities – not just north and south but also between civil society intellectuals and university based counterparts – which is seen in post-custodial archival relationships; and a preferential option for scholarship and teaching that engages the world with a social justice lens. Rather than see Global Studies as a watered down displacement, we need a proactive blueprint that’s more vibrant and critically engaged and which requires a collaboration space between librarians and scholar teachers. We can set Latin American Studies on new course, unbound by past restraints and becoming ideal leaders for universities with an increasingly urgent mandate to understand and engage our troubled world.

Questions and Comments:

Matthew Hill (Brigham Young University) asked Dr. Hale to expand on challenges. Hale expressed concern that globalization is watering down the deep knowledge of area studies. Hale advised that we drive and lead rather than react to this process. We should push for collaborative projects in all that we do. It is not possible to have Global Studies without deep embedded Latin American Studies.

Paula Covington (Vanderbilt) asked whether LANIC is still being updated or has ceased to exist, noting that SALALM librarians use it as a teaching tool. Hale commented that it is alive and well but has changed form. It used to be part of LLILAS and a standalone center, but is now part of a much larger effort.

Paul Losch (University of Florida) noted that the University of Texas at Austin staff has the benefit of being in the same building and asked whether Dr. Hale had words of advice for places that are physically spread out. Dr. Hale thanked Losch for the great question. When partnership started, Hale had just read a New Yorker article about MIT where they put all manner of scientists in one space and how they kept meeting in the halls and coming up with serendipitous great ideas and how many Nobel prizes came of those conversations. There is something powerful in physical proximity; you see each other, have events together, etc. That said, a lot of work also happens when they are not physically together.

Suzanne Schadl (University of New Mexico) asked Dr. Hale to talk about joint appointments and the bureaucracy of making that happen. Hale noted that the idea started with a partnership. There were all kinds of bureaucratic complexities. There has to be a lot of dialogue, including the issue of merit-based raises. Replacements involve new type of negotiation. Diplomacy is also important.

Enrique Camacho (UNAM) exaltó la charla y preguntó si se puede extender a colegas latinoamericanos la visita al acervo. Hale mencionó algunas oportunidades pero notó que se necesita muchas más.