Library accumulation and the emergence of Latin American studies
Author: Salvatore, Ricardo D.
Source: Comparative American Studies, Volume 3, Number 4, November 2005 , pp. 415-436(22)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:During the age of Pan-Americanism (1890–1940), US universities built impressive collections of books, periodicals, government papers, and manuscripts relating to Latin America. Collectors showed great interest in documents and books of the early Spanish colonial period, and they also gathered materials that could help account for the contemporary progress of Latin American societies. Implicit in these early library collections was the assumption that, in order to facilitate commerce and investment in the region, a prior understanding of Latin American culture, society and politics was needed. Hence, humanist and material interests converged in the building of comprehensive collections of 'Latin Americana', well before the formation of Latin American studies. The collective enterprise of building Latin American collections is placed in relation to the parallel and interwoven processes of development of mass-consumer capitalism and the emergence of research universities. Placing the origins of a regional knowledge within the context of capital accumulation and the materiality of 'book accumulation' contributes towards a better understanding of US–Latin American relations and, indirectly, towards a re-thinking of the true origins of multi-disciplinarity and area studies. Much before the Cold War, book-collectors, librarians and bibliographers had contributed to frame the foundations (the questions, interests and arguments) of what would become later the field called 'Latin American studies'.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 2005