Photo by Phil Brenner, Havana, December 2014
Images enrich and stimulate scholarly work in the humanities, and the study of Latin America is accompanied by a particularly rich imagery of the region and its peoples. Drawings, paintings, photographs, as well as mediums such as postage stamps, compellingly convey nuanced stories about the region and its cultural, political, social, and physical past and present. We estimate that hundreds of thousands of such visuals are held among Latin Americanist scholars in personal collections, often in fragile or obsolete formats such as slides and print photos.
CLALS is collaborating with AU's Bender Library and the Department of World Languages and Cultures on the Latin American Visuals Online Repository. Launched in May 2013, the Archive is housed in a searchable, open-access database. It aims to gather and digitize visual collections, and make them freely available to students, teachers, and researchers. This project was originally spearheaded by AU professor Jack Child (1938-2011) and is dedicated to his memory.
This initiative has the potential to augment student engagement with Latin American by enabling instructors to incorporate visuals into classroom activities and presentations. Products of this project can also enhance the visibility of Latin American studies, providing high quality images for book illustrations, websites, journal covers, and various other uses.
The initial collection was donated by Jack Child and contains 4,000 of Child's slides, which have now been digitized. For examples of Professor Child’s work analyzing thousands of diverse postage stamps from Latin America to decode the messages they convey about the region’s history, culture and politics, click here.
In July 2015, we opened our first online, curated photo exhibit, entitled "Exploring Cuba." The exhibit features photos donated by twelve scholars and students, and is divided into nine thematic categories, including Architecture, Cars and Transportation, Propaganda, Agriculture and Rural Life, People, and Culture, among others. We hope that this resource will be useful to authors, educators, web designers, and others engaged in analyses of contemporary Cuban affairs.