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Volume 73 / Social Sciences


TRACY NORTH, Social Sciences Editor, Handbook of Latin American Studies


Over the past several decades, globalization and neoliberalism have been the focus of much social science scholarship on Latin America. The corpus of work that appears in this Handbook volume suggests a shift to a post-neoliberal era. The conversation about globalization and neoliberalism has spread beyond political economy into sociology, geography, and other relevant disciplines. Researchers across these disciplines are developing sophisticated ways to measure the impact of neoliberal policies. For instance, in the example of Chile, HLAS Contributing Editor (CE) and political economist Silvia Borzutzky notes the rise of social movements in reaction to the growing inequities resulting from these policies (p. 458–459).

Globalization made it possible for the Monsanto Company—a producer of genetically modified seeds and plants—to attempt to control agribusiness in Argentina through mergers with and acquisitions of local companies. The restrictions imposed by Monsanto on agricultural practices, for instance, the required use of their patented genetically modified seeds, deny the opportunity for independent growers to compete freely in a global market. Two publications address the impact of this transnational company investing in Argentina (items 735 and 759). In one case, the community came together to oppose the Monsanto site and legally challenged the company.

Studies of several large corruption scandals—especially Operation Car Wash (Operação Lava Jato) involving the Odebrecht Company and the state-controlled oil company Petrobras—have laid bare the tainted transactions between scores of politicians and businesses, extending from Brazil to Peru and into the Dominican Republic. Odebrecht, a Brazilian conglomerate, consists of a number of businesses in the fields of engineering, construction, chemicals, and petrochemicals. The company paid millions of dollars in bribes to politicians across the region to garner favorable conditions for investment. In the Dominican Republic, HLAS CE for Hispanic Caribbean Government and Politics, Sherrie Baver, mentions that "several politicians have been indicted by the attorney general for taking bribes from the Odebrecht Company, thus joining a long line of public officials throughout Latin America facing citizen wrath for colluding with this Brazilian construction giant. As a result, trust in political institutions and elections has declined in recent years while, in contrast, trust in social institutions has been on the rise" (item 1124).

Similarly, HLAS CE for Peruvian Government and Politics Astrid Arrarás notes in her introductory essay that former Peruvian presidents Alejandro Toledo (2001–2006) and Ollanta Humala (2011–2016) are both facing charges of corruption, and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016–2018), Humala's successor, resigned after video evidence showed his allies offering bribes to opposition lawmakers to prevent his impeachment. She also reminds us that, "at present, Toledo is a fugitive from justice fighting extradition from the US." He is accused of accepting 20 million dollars from Odebrecht (p. 282). She describes works that analyze the second administration of Alan García (2006–2011) and highlights one publication in which "the authors of 16 essays on key aspects of the policies implemented by García conclude that his administration represented a lost opportunity for Peru to achieve sustainable development and democratic consolidation" (item 1271). She cites a study that attempts to measure the legacy of 10 years of authoritarian rule under Alberto Fujimori (1990–2000) on the government of Alan García (item 1265). In that work, the authors argue that "the rise of corruption scandals accompanied by human rights violations by the state are rooted in Fujimori's legacies." Another compilation of essays assesses the domestic and international policies of the Humala administration during 2011–2016 (item 1270). Like Toledo, Humala has been implicated in the Odebrecht scandal. Dr. Arrarás notes that "Humala is currently in pretrial detention over allegations of laundering three million dollars in Odebrecht to support his 2011 presidential campaign" (p. 282).

The wide and deep reach of the Odebrecht scandal demonstrates the need for greater government transparency and public access to reliable information. The international organization WikiLeaks has made its mission to shed light on the secret deals, news leaks, and classified information obtained in a variety of ways. Given the interconnectedness of economic and political forces at the global level, it should not be a surprise that the organization's sleuthing has impacted Latin America. In this volume, as anticipated in HLAS 71, two publications discuss the role of WikiLeaks in uncovering the dealings of Argentine politicians. While these books are not the first mentions of WikiLeaks in HLAS (see HLAS 71:1456), they do represent the first time Argentina is under the microscope. In Politileaks, Santiago O'Donnell, an investigative journalist, comments on the cables from the US Embassy in Argentina that name Argentine and non-Argentine politicians such as Brazil's former president Lula da Silva (item 1359). In ArgenLeaks, O'Donnell analyzes Argentine news coverage of the release of the documents (item 1555).

Even as Argentina copes with its current scandals, its scholars have not abandoned old preoccupations. HLAS CE Brian Turner notes that several publications were issued over the past years commemorating the 30th anniversary of the 1982 Malvinas War. He indicates that the essay collection Un actor ignorado (item 1320) "is the most analytical of these works, all of which articulate the Argentine nationalist position" (p. 307).

Several publications address a recent phenomenon that is spreading rapidly and showing no signs of waning in spite of moderate economic growth: young adults who are neither in school nor working—ni estudian, ni trabajan. Colloquially, they are called "ni-nis" or "ninis" (items 1594 and 1987). HLAS CE for General Political Economy Jonathan Hiskey aptly describes a recommended article on these youth: "Despite more than a decade of relatively strong and consistent economic growth, Latin America continues to struggle to provide some outlet for the millions of "ni-ni's" (ni estudian ni trabajan), young people who neither study nor work. This paper is among a growing number that explore this phenomenon, its micro- and macroeconomic causes, and possible policy strategies that may help alleviate it. The authors recommend increasing government attention to education services and incentives that reach young people before they enter th[is] category" (p. 398).

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has a long history of economic stabilization projects in the region, particularly in Argentina. Noemí Brenta outlines the historical trajectory of the IMF in Argentina (item 1549). HLAS CE for South American International Relations Félix Martín notes the two main purposes of Brenta's work: "It traces the evolution of the international monetary system in the 20th century, highlighting the IMF as the main international monetary organization, and, second, it outlines the continuous relationship between the IMF and Argentina." The book describes agreements between the IMF and Argentina from 1956 until 2006. Martín praises the work as "an extraordinary chronological work that details one of the most rich and problematic relationships between the IMF and any recipient country" (p. 379).

It is impossible to consume any current news without hearing a discussion of the reasons for and effects of migration. Studies on a number of countries in the region show that migrants leave home due to a variety of causes ranging from persistent violence and economic conditions to climate change. At present the main area of scholarly and political preoccupation is Central American and Mexican migration to the US. A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that the number of unauthorized immigrants entering the US is trending downward (www.pewhispanic.org/2018/11/27/u-s-unauthorized-immigrant-total-dips-to-lowest-level-in-a-decade/). Significantly, fewer Mexicans are heading to the US than in years past. While studies on emigrant remittances and their economic impact on sending communities continue to appear, HLAS CE for General Sociology Enrique Pumar notes that the number of studies on return migration, like the number of return migrants themselves, is trending upward (p. 489–490).

In the Editor's Note for Volume 71, I drew attention to a study of the popular South American brandy, pisco. Now the spotlight is on Mexico with a historical study about tequila, made from the ubiquitous agave plant (item 1999). As mezcal gains popularity in the US, more studies on the origins and usage of the beverage in precolumbian times are anticipated, such as in the edited volume Agua de las verdes matas: tequila y mescal, where the authors present ethnobotanical knowledge of the fermentation of the agave plant and describe "the historical development of local economies and transportation routes based upon tequila and mescal production" (item 595). The prestigious Food & Wine magazine published a recent article on the topic, clarifying the difference between tequila and mezcal www.foodandwine.com/cocktails-spirits/differences-between-tequila-mezcal). Both beverages are made from agave, but tequila is made only from blue agave. As the article nicely explains: "All tequilas are mezcals, but not all mezcals are tequilas" (Max Bonem, 19 April 2017).

A number of unique resources are included in this volume. One 2013 Nicaraguan book, Postsandinismo: crónica de un diálogo intergeneracional e interpretación del pensamiento político de la Generación XXI, brings together blog posts from the author's university course in which students responded to probing questions about their political beliefs (item 1104). Another rare occurrence is the inclusion of a comic book on Peruvian politics (item 1256). Jesús Cossio uses the comic book format to present cases of political violence committed by the Peruvian armed forces and the Shining Path militant revolutionary organization. He pulled information from several sources including the Final Report of the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation (see HLAS 63:3613), academic books, reports written by human rights organizations, and articles from magazines and newspapers. Dr. Arrarás rightly argues that "this book is a very valuable source for all interested in political violence and transitional justice in Peru" (p. 283). A study on slum tourism caught our attention due to its broad approach. According to HLAS CE for General Geography Kent Mathewson, "the emerging interdisciplinary field of slum tourism... can help to connect issues of urban poverty with the tourism industry in Latin America" (p. 110). This article, in particular, analyzes case studies in Mexico and Jamaica "to theorize about slums and inequality" (item 470).

Technological developments in publishing have generated some truly remarkable high-quality publications during this review period. Now that the expectations are higher for color graphics, HLAS CEs David Robinson and Christina Conlee continue to lament the poor quality of photographs and maps in publications on geography and archeology, two disciplines that greatly benefit from superior imaging.

Turning to the field of anthropology, a number of recent works present new and innovative ways of looking at indigenous peoples—both precolumbian civilizations and contemporary cultures. In Tarahumara Medicine: Ethnobotany and Healing among the Rarámuri of Mexico, the author's unique background first as a medical student and then as a physician and observer positioned him well to document healing within this indigenous group known for their incredible long-distance running capability (item 292). As HLAS CE for Mesoamerican Ethnology Duncan Earle explains, the ethnography first describes the "setting, history, people and their culture, social activities, life cycle and rites of passage, festivals... healers, healing ceremony and health concepts" of this group. The second part of the rich ethnobotanical resource offers a compendium of herbal remedies and healing practices of the Tarahumara. Incidentally a number of works in this volume examine various aspects of the Tarahumara, including mental health (item 271), higher education (item 278), and local resistance (item 1669).

From an archeological perspective, Laura Filloy Nadal has published the first comprehensive study of the mortuary furniture of one of the richest and most famous royal tombs of the ancient Maya, K'inich Janaab' Pakal's tomb in Palenque from the first century AD (item 67). Her study delves into the sources of the raw materials used for the jewelry, ornaments, and other objects in the tomb. Although this book is the first to analyze this specific tomb, studies of elites, kings, and rulers of precolumbian civilizations are not out of the ordinary. In fact, in Constructing 'Commoner' Identity in an Ancient Maya Village: Class, Status, and Ritual at the Northeast Group, Chan Belize, Chelsea Blackmore argues that "despite increasing attention to overall settlement patterns and non-elite households in recent decades—archeologists still interpret ancient Maya societies mainly in terms of elite groups, and [she] calls for a serious reconsideration of how 'commoners' are defined and what roles they play in innovation and societal development" (p. 12, item 54).

It is eye-opening to see no less than three publications about turkeys and turkey husbandry in precolumbian Mesoamerica (items 88, 93, and 95) given their pervasiveness in contemporary kitchens. The first study analyzes turkey remains—from eggs to adult birds—in Oaxaca during the classic period. The second study reports that it is possible to make sex determinations of turkeys by measuring their femurs. The results suggest that females were more prevalent, indicating the cultivation of turkeys for consumption. The third study differentiates faunal remains between two species of turkeys to suggest that they were important resources in classic-period Oaxaca. Motivated by these recent research discoveries, I surmise that turkeys may have been the original poultry consumed in combination with traditional mole sauce (that nowadays is more commonly served with chicken); I would like to report a successful experiment of taste-testing the dish.

Continuing with the field of archeology, I would like to call your attention to a beautiful publication in tribute to longtime HLAS CE Betty J. Meggers (p. 35, item 197). I was lucky enough to have worked with Dr. Meggers (1921–2012) for several years before she retired from HLAS. She was one of the rare scholars who was committed to being an HLAS CE for over 50 years. Both HLAS users and scholars in her field will forever be indebted to her for the remarkable research she put forth about Brazilian and Ecuadorian archeology. As this publication in her honor demonstrates, she made an indelible mark. An obituary for her appears in Volume 69 (p. xvi–xvii).

Changes are coming to the Library of Congress. Under the leadership of Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden, the agency is moving to open the doors and encourage access to the collections from near and far. One way in which the Library is accomplishing this goal is by offering gallery talks in exhibit spaces. To commemorate the 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Game, which took place in Washington, DC, on 17 July 2018, the Library coordinated an exhibit about the history of baseball. (Although the exhibit closes in 2019, the online presence will remain available: loc.gov/exhibitions/baseball-americana/about-this-exhibition/.) The influence and importance of Latin Americans and Latinos for US baseball is undeniable. To draw attention to this part of baseball history, members of the Hispanic Division hosted a gallery talk during the 2018 Hispanic Heritage Month celebration to highlight the relevant objects in the exhibit and to showcase LC's significant collections on this popular topic. In addition to some of the obvious characters and story lines—who could forget Mexican Fernando Valenzuela's pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers, particularly in 1981 when he won rookie of the year and the Cy Young award?—it has been exciting to share information about the important contributions of Caribbean, Mexican, Central and South American baseball players to both the Negro Leagues and MLB. It is especially gratifying to mention a connection to this HLAS volume in which series of research studies addresses baseball in the Caribbean. Nicholas Wise has been observing a recreational site in the Dominican Republic where Dominicans have set up baseball fields and Haitian immigrants seek to play soccer (items 546 and 547). His field research points to the importance of sports for both national and cultural identity.

In another effort to make connections beyond our walls in Washington, DC, the Library of Congress created a new office, LC Labs, as a place to encourage innovation with our digital collections (labs.loc.gov/). One of the first projects is a crowd-sourcing experiment. In consultation with specialists throughout the Library (mainly in the Manuscript Division) five collections have been selected to initiate the project, one of which is the Branch Rickey Collection. Rickey (1881–1965), a baseball player and executive, is credited with breaking baseball's color line by signing Jackie Robinson to a minor league contract in 1945. In early 2018, the Library digitized his papers, making freely available thousands of scouting reports of baseball players from the US, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere: loc.gov/collections/branch-rickey-papers/. The "crowd" that is "sourcing" the project consists of members of the public, who are invited to visit the Library's web site and transcribe those scouting reports, thereby connecting with our collections in new ways and simultaneously providing useful text-based data to be made available for future search and discovery. Given the distributed nature of HLAS, in which over one hundred members of the scholarly community prepare annotated bibliographies and introductory essays for a range of disciplines, one might suggest that HLAS itself has been a crowd-sourcing project since its inception in 1935.

Hispanic Division staff members look forward to having many more opportunities to share the marvels of the Library's collections with our HLAS community; the Handbook is a gateway to the vast riches of the Library's Latin American and Caribbean collections. We'll continue to invite you to take part in the discovery of the dynamic cultural resources that are collected by and safeguarded in this institution for your use.


In Fall 2017, we launched a new mobile-friendly, ADA-compliant web site at hlasopac.loc.gov. Additional search features have been added, permalinks (permanent links) to individual records are available, and the site has been given a visual refresh. Currently Volumes 41 onward are available on the site. Through the work of an ongoing conversion project, bibliographic citations from the remaining earlier volumes will eventually be made available on the updated site.

HLAS has been available as an electronic resource for 30 years. Beginning in 1989, access to HLAS records from Volume 50 onward was provided via dedicated terminals connected to the LC mainframe computer, then through the internet via telnet. The year 1998 saw the launch of HLAS Online, a searchable web-based database that offers free electronic access to all volumes of HLAS, including Volumes 1–49 (1936–89). Records that did not appear in a print volume may or may not be annotated, and newer records are in a preliminary editorial stage. The web site also includes a list of HLAS subject headings, a list of journal titles and the corresponding journal abbreviations found in records, tables of contents and linked introductory essays for Volumes 50–65 (loc.gov/hlas/contents.html), as well as introductory essays for the historical Volumes 1–49, which are searchable in the database by using the phrase "general statement." The web address for HLAS Online is loc.gov/hlas/. The interface for the site is trilingual (English, Spanish, and Portuguese) and the data is updated weekly. HLAS Online is an OpenURL source, allowing seamless linking from HLAS entries to related subscription electronic resources available at your institution. HLAS Web, the newer web site offering more targeted search options, became available in 2000. Once we complete the retrospective conversion of all of the HLAS bibliographic citations since Volume 1 (published in 1936), we will consolidate our two distinct web sites to a single web presence.


Anthropology (Ethnology)
Dr. Isabel Scarborough, Parkland College, began covering the Ethnology: Andean Highlands section.

Dr. Richard Hunter, SUNY-Cortland, reviewed the publications for the section on Mexico.

Government and Politics
Dr. Kathleen Bruhn, University of California Santa Barbara, took on responsibility for the dynamic General Government and Politics section. Dr. Erika Moreno, Creighton University, demonstrated her vast knowledge of Colombia by reviewing materials from that country for this volume. For Peru, Astrid Arrarás, Florida International University, prepared the section with a higher quantity of materials published over the past five years. And Dr. Ronald Ahnen, Saint Mary's College of California, canvassed the materials for the always-stimulating Brazil section.

International Relations
Dr. Félix Martín, Florida International University, continues to cover the South American International Relations section, but he has turned over the review of the Hispanic Caribbean materials to Dr. Julio Ortiz-Luquis, Borough of Manhattan Community College and Brooklyn College, CUNY. Dr. Tony Payan, Rice University, relied on his broad expertise to cover the Mexico and Central America section. For Brazil, Dr. Scott Tollefson, National Defense University, prepared just a small submission due to unforeseen circumstances.

Political Economy
Dr. David Shirk, University of San Diego, reviewed the publications on Mexican Political Economy. Dr. Carlos Parodi, Illinois State University, ably prepared the section on Bolivia and Peru.

Dr. Ernesto Castañeda, American University, eagerly reviewed the publications for the Mexico section, and it is impressive that his enthusiasm did not wane even after he discovered the quantity of books that we had set aside for him to review. Dr. Clare Sammells, Bucknell University, agreed to begin reviewing the Bolivian publications. For the Southern Cone, Dr. María Esperanza Casullo handed over the reins to her Argentine colleague María Sol Prieto, who expertly compiled the bibliography of materials from Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chile. And finally, we are thilled to have Dr. Erica Williams, Spelman College, joining the HLAS team and canvassing the many publications on Brazil.

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