Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute

Tulane University

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Tulane is one of three universities in the US which have created separate collections for Latin American materials. Current holdings total some 365,000 volumes. The Latin American Library comprises 20% of total main library holding and occupies one sixth of total floor space. Its holdings rank tenth among institutions surveyed by the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM). Combined holding of all Latin American materials at Tulane place us in the top four or five libraries ranked in a l997-8 study of U.S. collections.

The Library is visited by scholars from throughout the world, including many from Latin America searching for information about their own countries. Yearly it honors about a thousand interlibrary loan requests from other institutions. Every year it fields some 1,000 extramural scholar inquiries and its award-winning web-site registers 280,000 “hits.” Vol. 56 of the Handbook of Latin American Studies identifies The Latin American Library as one of the four most important Internet research sites on Latin America.

The historic focus of the Library has been Mexico and Central America, given the nature of the original l924 gift around which the library has evolved. This focus remains and, in fact, the Library of Congress uses the Latin American Library as a yardstick to evaluate its own collections for Guatemala and Belize.

Among the more notable holdings is an archive of almost 30,000 historic photographs, many of them depicting customs, costumes and buildings no longer extant. The photo collection also includes unique glass negatives and lantern slides taken by early photographers.

The Library has an extensive collection of original Spanish Colonial handwritten documents, including the first letter written by Fernando Cortes in Mexico. It is especially rich in its collection of native language dictionaries, grammars, catechisms, legal dossiers, administrative proceedings and notarial records from New Spain. Another extremely important special collection includes over 2,000 rubbings (many of them huge in size) of Maya stone carving. These are the work of Merle Greene Robertson, the inventor of the rubbing technique as applied to this stone work. The importance of this collection increases yearly as the original stone material is pilfered, looted or eroded by acid rain and petrochemical pollution. In many cases it is best full-scale record of particular inscriptions extant.

Perhaps the crown jewel of the Library is its collection of original Mexican pictorial manuscripts in the Native tradition, the largest such collection in the U.S. These pre-columbian and colonial painted manuscripts, codices, lienzos, and mapas are visited by scholars from throughout the world. A notable example of these manuscripts is the Codex Tulane, a beautiful colored Mixtec document from around l550 which offers a mythological history of an area of Oaxaca and recounts details of the regimes of fifteen generations of rulers.

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Latin American Graduate Oraganization (LAGO) 2018 Conference: Call for Proposals

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The Latin American Graduate Organization will be hosting its 2018 Latin American Studies Conference titled Thinking of the Future: Expanding the possible in the Americas (Pensando en el porvenir: Expandiendo lo posible en las Américas) February 23 – 25, 2018, at Tulane University, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

This year, the conference topic is meant to challenge academics and activists to move beyond critiques and recommendations of how to address modern days issues, and instead articulate a vision of and for the future.

The LAGO Conference welcomes all disciplines and all approaches, as long as the project attempts to grapple with the idea of building something better. This is a Latin American Studies Conference, but creative writers, journalists, artists, performers, organizers, lawyers and healthcare providers as well as graduate students and other academics are welcome. Proposals are accepted in Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and English.

Deadlines: Abstracts of papers and projects are due November 25, 2017. Abstracts of papers or project descriptions must not exceed 300 words.

Please contact lago.tulane@gmail.com with questions. For more information, visit the official conference website.