Artstor Is… Latin American Studies
The Artstor Digital Library offers many excellent resources to support Latin American Studies, encompassing materials from the Pre-Columbian era through the Spanish conquest, and from Cuba’s revolution in 1959 to images of Carnaval in Brazil in 2008.
A history of the region can be illustrated with images from the encyclopedic collections available in the Digital Library. An excellent start can be The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, which includes hundreds of pages from Aztec codices that provide excellent primary sources for Pre-Columbian culture. The Codex Mendoza (ca. 1541), for example, illustrates the history of Aztec rulers and their conquests, the tributes paid by their provinces, and a fascinating general description of daily Aztec life. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Brooklyn Museum Costumes contains examples of 19th and 20th century costumes from different Latin American countries, providing a glimpse of the culture after the region’s independence from Spain. Revolutions, civil wars, elections, and other events in Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and other countries from the 1950s to current times are amply documented in Magnum Photos.
Artstor also features many collections that specialize in or are substantially devoted to Latin American topics. Some concentrate on the arts, such as Jacqueline Barnitz: Modern Latin American Art (University of Texas at Austin): modern art from Mexico and ten other Caribbean, Central, and South American countries; and Latin American Art (Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros): colonial, modern, and contemporary Latin American art.
Others collections focus on archaeological sites and Pre-Columbian arts, including Carnegie Institution of Washington Photographs of Mayan Excavations (Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University): archaeological excavations throughout Central America, images from the excavated sites at Chichen Itza and Copán; Ferguson-Royce: Pre-Columbian Photography (University of Texas at Austin): magnificent aerial views and ground photographs of many of the major Pre-Columbian sites in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras; and Josef and Anni Albers Foundation: the artists’ travel photographs taken between 1934 and 1967 during visits to cities and archaeological sites throughout Chile, Mexico, and Peru, along with personal photographs and photo collages.
Architecture in Latin America is covered by Hal Box and Logan Wagner: Mexican Architecture and Urban Design (University of Texas at Austin): architecture and outdoor communal spaces in Mexico, focusing on Pre-Columbian and 16th-17th century Colonial sites, but also including Post Colonial structures from the 18th – 20th centuries; and Alka Patel: South Asian and Cuban Art and Architecture: field photography including a selection of Cuban architecture of the 18th through early 20th centuries.
A few collections present more unusual cultural artifacts, notably Cuban Heritage Collection (University of Miami Libraries): black and white photographs of Cuba from the early 1900s to the 1930s depicting various aspects of the life, architecture, and culture of Havana and other Cuban towns; and Mexican Retablos (Jorge Durand and Douglas Massey): contemporary examples of traditional religious folk art as a source of sociological data for the experiences of Mexican migrants to the United States.
Artstor is working on more collections, among them Diego Rivera (Detroit Institute of Arts): images of works by the influential Mexican artist; Mark Rogovin: Mexican Murals: 20th century murals in Mexico; The Jean Charlot Collection (University of Hawai’i at Manoa): including Mexican art and archaeology, particularly relating to the revolutionary artists and writers of the 1920s; and new QTVR panoramas from Columbia University that include Sacsayhuamán, the Inca walled complex north of Cusco, Peru.
For more interdisciplinary teaching ideas, visit the Digital Library and click on “Featured Groups.” Also, download Artstor’s Latin American Studies Subject Guide.