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Volume 71 / Social Sciences


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

As we put the finishing touches on another Handbook of Latin American Studies volume, we find much continuity regarding the research presented here in relation to previous volumes. We also see several publications that present unique research methods and/or cover topics of relevance to current events that will have implications for scholars in the future. In a first for HLAS, Dr. Baver has included a podcast on the debt crisis in Puerto Rico in her section (see item 1137). The economic situation in Puerto Rico is of concern to Puerto Ricans who remain on the island as well as to the growing number of Puerto Ricans who have left the island for the mainland US. On a related note, the ambiguous political position of Puerto Rico vis-à-vis the US is a topic of several studies. For example, Jaime Lluch penned a monograph that provides background and examples of cases from throughout the world that may be useful in addressing Puerto Rico's current economic crisis (item 1138). A unique resource on the topic that is included in this HLAS volume is a transcript of a 2012 US Congressional hearing on the political status of the island (item 1142). Yet another plebiscite may be held in 2017 and the island's political elite are lining up their support now.

In another first, Mexico en Wikileaks brings us the first mention of WikiLeaks in a scholarly study of Latin America through its compilation of coverage from Mexican newspaper La Jornada about the WikiLeaks scandal (item 1456). Founded in 2006, WikiLeaks is an international nonprofit organization that publishes secret and classified information from anonymous sources. As this HLAS volume goes to press, we have already gathered two additional scholarly works on WikiLeaks that will be reviewed for HLAS 73—one on Argentina and another on the impact of WikiLeaks on Latin American media in general.

Some other recent publications with contemporary relevance include a provocative study about the interaction between an indigenous group and a company that attempted to promote sandals with indigenous patterns by using a famous supermodel as the face of the campaign (item 377). Gisele Bündchen is a world famous Brazilian supermodel, and in fact, at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, she was featured prominently. While the worlds of pop culture and scholarship rarely intersect, in this examination we come to understand the significance of striking a balance between preserving and promoting indigenous culture and exposing indigenous designs, ornaments, and songs to the world at large.

Another example of a study with contemporary relevance looks at the origins of the popular brandy, pisco—a topic that may be entertaining to some but is serious business to others, especially as global brands and name recognition continue to drive profits (item 745). Among other issues, the article examines the question of who owns pisco—Chile or Peru.

A somewhat related example is Barbara Göbel's study of the mining of lithium, an invaluable metal resource for batteries used for computers and hand-held devices (item 801). As more people around the world rely on battery-operated devices for communication and the demand for lithium grows, Göbel looks at the local impact of mining in Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia. She examines the sometimes conflicting needs and goals of government policies, indigenous communities, and economic development, while also studying how the extraction of this precious mineral has affected water rights, among other issues. Continuing a trend we have enjoyed in recent years, the article—and indeed the contents of the entire journal—are freely available online from the journal publisher, the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut (https://journals.iai.spk-berlin.de/).

Dr. Krista Van Vleet, the HLAS CE for the Ethnology of the Andean Highlands, weaves new research methods into her introductory remarks. She highlights one publication in particular that examines the possibilities and prospects for new approaches to "ethnographic representations of Peruvian expressive culture" based on new media. The creation of websites, for example, makes cultural production immediately accessible worldwide. Two researchers who are looking at this new phenomenon, Natalie Underberg and Elayne Zorn (item 488), examine two web projects to explore how cultural production may be transformed through the global audience: Folkvine and PeruVine. Dr. Van Vleet aptly notes that several scholars whose works are included in this volume "examine processes, practices, and discourses that have global reach and yet are configured through their mobilization in specific local contexts in the Andean Highlands" (p. 106).

Continuing a theme mentioned in the Editor's Note for Volume 69, researchers remain focused on analyzing the impact of mega-events on local and regional development (see, for example, item 952). With Brazil playing host to both the World Cup (2014) and the Olympics (2016), Latin America is on the global stage as host of mega-events. Mexico hosted the Olympics in 1968 during a time of student protest and social activism that led to the Tlatelolco massacre. Many have expressed concern that Brazil will likewise suffer violent episodes as it strives to achieve national development goals. The microscopic lens examining Brazil is not focused only on politics or economics, but also on life in the favelas, social justice, and human rights more generally. Any study of Brazil must recognize the racial component of the socioeconomic disparities in the country. A recent study of racial categories in Brazil offers a discussion of this important topic (item 942).

Human rights also have become a major topic for the island of Hispaniola. While relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic have never been outstanding, recent policies implemented by the Dominican Republic have resulted in the revoking of rights of Dominican citizens of Haitian descent as well as Haitians who have been working and living in the Dominican Republic for many years (p. 260). As a result of these policies, seen by some as clear human rights violations, and the international backlash against the Dominican Republic, the country withdrew from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2014.

Throughout Latin America, the topics of security and human rights continue as a major area of research focus for scholars, activists, politicians, and citizens. For Mexico, Ernesto Villanueva contributes a hefty tome that examines public security and law enforcement agencies in the country (item 2016). He evaluates the federal agencies responsible for security and human rights with the ultimate goal of developing an index to measure performance in the future. He argues for the standardization of reporting information, an increase in information-sharing across agencies, and the professionalization of law enforcement personnel. The major contribution of the study is that all of the data he compiled for his research is published in the book.

On a more promising note, recent developments in the peace process in Colombia point to a truce between the FARC and the government (item 1155). The persistent violence and lengthy negotiations gave rise to a sense of hopelessness amongst Colombians regarding any possibility for lasting peace. However, in 2016 the government of Juan Manuel Santos and leaders of the FARC announced a peace agreement. Albeit tenuous, the announcement is welcome as it signals a dramatic improvement in relations among the Colombian army, the FARC, and paramilitary groups. Perhaps an end to violence is near; certainly scholars and other observers will be watching closely.

Another situation that people may have given up on is the contentious relationship between Cuba and the US. However, in 2015, US President Barack Obama announced a major shift in US policy vis-à-vis Cuba, and the thawing of relations and reengagement have followed. The Cuban Embassy in Washington reopened after 50 years and US diplomatic personnel have been reinstated on the island. The HLAS Contributing Editor (CE) for Government and Politics of the Hispanic Caribbean, Dr. Sherrie Baver, discusses this development further in her introductory remarks (p. 259).

On a related note, the perennial topic of Latin American relations with the US brings us two examinations of anti-Americanism. In Rethinking Anti-Americanism (item 1398), Max-Paul Friedman delves into the origin of the term and its use across the globe since before US independence. He argues that the concept and its related assumptions have limited the options available to US foreign relations policymakers and prevented the advancement of policy goals. His research in archives throughout the world and his extensive use of quotations from government sources in several languages inform his argument. In The Invaded: How Latin Americans and Their Allies Fought and Ended U.S. Occupations, historian Alan McPherson focuses specifically on US occupations in Latin America and attempts to rewrite the history from the perspective of the occupied (item 1416). He explores the reasons underlying resistance to US occupation in Nicaragua (1912–34), Haiti (1915–34), and the Dominican Republic (1916–24), finding that those who resisted the US presence were able to draw support from elsewhere in Latin America, where anti-American sentiment resonated.

Continuing with the theme of American and other external influences on Latin American countries, one thought-provoking geographical study examines place names in Trinidad and Tobago and attempts to uncover the origin of the names (item 595). The author finds that many names indicate a legacy of colonialism and slavery, while others are drawn from external influences such as US presidents. Not even independence in 1962 changed this unfortunate legacy.

In 2014, UNESCO designated Qhapaq Ñan, the intricate Andean road system constructed by the Incas, as a cultural heritage site (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1459). While this decision has been celebrated throughout the region, what may not be evident to the general public is the amount of effort required for such a feat. Deyanira Gómez Salazar analyzes the process and involvement of local, national, and international organizations in working together to achieve this goal (item 1545).

Dr. Charles Brockett, the HLAS CE for Central American Government and Politics, addresses yet another case of recent research with relevance to current events. In his introductory remarks, he includes a discussion of violence in Guatemala in which he highlights the 1998 assassination of Bishop Juan José Gerardi, an ardent human rights defender (p. 243–244). As this volume was being prepared for press, Captain Byron Lima Oliva, the army officer who in 2001 was convicted of the crime, was himself killed in a prison riot. Many questions remain, such as: Was he, one of three convicted, in fact the killer? And will we ever know the truth? In a legal blog post, David Stoll addresses these issues by reviewing Julie López's book on the topic (item 1094), along with a book previously published by Francisco Goldman (see HLAS 65:1518) and others. Stoll tends to agree with López that the verdict should be met with a healthy dose of skepticism.

The topics of crime and violence are familiar themes for Latin America. In fact, we continue to see studies of violence throughout the region. One example is Maiah Jaskoski's examination of the privatization of the military in Ecuador and Peru (item 1182). In the article, she reports on over 300 interviews with military personnel and finds that military leaders actively seek private funding and tailor their exploits accordingly. A related work explores military policy more broadly in the Andean region (item 971).

The impact of violence runs far and wide. As bluntly noted by Dr. Shannan Mattiace, HLAS CE for Mexican Government and Politics, "it is not surprising that security is a principal concern among scholars of Mexican politics" (p. 229). Several works address the issue from different levels of analysis—from the macro level to local contexts. Dr. Mattiace makes the case that "more work is needed" to understand the roots and causes of systemic and unrepentant violence in Mexico (p. 230).

Continuing with the focus on Mexico, HLAS CE for Mexican Sociology, Diane E. Davis, notes that "... longstanding sociological topics such as poverty, inequality, and state responsibility, are now being studied within a framework of violence (items 2002 and 2017)" (p. 492). Likewise, the main themes of research on Central American Sociology are violence and migration, sometimes treated separately but often examined together.

One topic that is in need of further research is return migration and the re-insertion of return migrants in the civic life in their communities (Mattiace, p. 230). In a related vein, we are starting to see some published research on the role of Home Town Associations (see, for example, item 995). With the increased movement of peoples across borders for various reasons—violence, economics, geographic forces, etc.—researchers will want to examine the role of return migrants to their home communities.

One book by a geographer has particular relevance to today given the current outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. For John McNeill's study describing mosquito empires in the Caribbean, the HLAS CE for Caribbean Geography, Dr. Joseph Scarpaci, has written a prophetic annotation: "An historical and epidemiological review of the role that the mosquitoes, malaria, yellow fever, and related maladies played in forging the history of the Caribbean, population vicissitudes, the role of slavery and plantation agriculture, and the ebb and flow of wealth. New arrivals to the region were particularly susceptible to infectious disease, and willingness to remain under European control often hinged on the perceptions that continental armies and (remedial) public health prophylaxis could keep diseases in check. Infectious diseases usually claimed more casualties in military and naval operations than did combat. Investment in the Panama Canal and foreign-owned agricultural production systems eventually controlled these diseases, but the ecosystem remains fragile and future outbreaks should not be discounted" (item 585). And, sure enough, today we are facing a potentially global health emergency due to the spread of the Zika virus.

Our new Contributing Editor for Southern Cone Geography, Dr. David J. Robinson, calls Gastón Gordillo's Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction the single most important book on a specific topic for Argentina (p. 170). The work uses historical landscape reconstruction to rediscover the country's colonial and precolonial past (item 803; see also item 428). He also tips his hat to former HLAS CE for Southern Cone Geography, César Caviedes, who has produced a ground-breaking study of the relationship between climate and society in Argentine colonial history (item 743). Dr. Robinson, never known to shy away from expressing his opinion (as you will see reflected in his annotations), sends a call for publishers to be careful about maps that appear in scholarly works of geography (p. 171). I would like to echo this call; put simply, maps that are illegible because they have been reduced to fit on a page are rendered useless. New and innovative methods offer the ability to include accompanying maps on external media such as CD-ROMs or websites, which along with time-tested methods of fold-outs and inserts are much more effective.

Publications canvassed for the Government and Politics chapter cut across the broad spectrum of research topics and address both new and familiar themes. For example, the HLAS CE for the General section, Dr. Christopher N. Darnton, mentions two books about women in politics, a research theme we have seen achieve gains over the past decade. One book provides a comprehensive assessment of gender quotas and women in politics throughout Latin America (item 970). Another work analyzes public policy and advocates for taking gender and equality into consideration while developing policies throughout Mexican political institutions such as the civil service and the Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres (Inmujeres), created by law in 2001 (item 989). Also for Mexico, Dr. Mattiace echoes former HLAS CE Dr. Rod Camp's push for more research on women in politics (p. 231). At the same time, Dr. Mattiace does highlight two books that attempt to fill the gap in research attention on women in Mexico (items 1007 and 1037). Several studies on other countries in the region also examine the role of women in politics (for Colombia, see item 1169; for Chile, see items 1267, 1275, and 1290).

The so-called left turn in Latin American politics is a major topic of research, as the ideology experiences a resurgence due to the seeming opposition to the wave of neoliberal reforms implemented throughout the region over the past decade. One study stands out for its heavy use of statistical analysis to examine left turns in Latin American governments (item 982).

For Central America, HLAS CE Dr. Charles Brockett brings to our attention a number of worthwhile publications. The magnum opus of political history has been published by Edelberto Torres-Rivas, "the dean of Central American social sciences." This masterpiece of Central American political history is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding contemporary politics in the region (item 1059). Given the historical trajectory of political development in Guatemala, one work explores the reasons why a Maya political party has not yet emerged in that country (item 1087), especially while indigenous political parties continue to grow out of social movements and thrive elsewhere in Latin America. Another fascinating study on Guatemala focuses on the archive of the Policía Nacional (item 1096); in Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala, Kirsten Weld describes the discovery of the previously secret archive and explains the challenges for preservation and access to this vast and important collection.

Turning to the politics of the Southern Cone, our CE for Chile, Dr. Peter Siavelis, wants us to know that the country is no longer the example of democracy and progress for the region, as it had been considered for the past several decades (p. 293–297). The country is facing challenges that align with the rest of the region. The economic model is under scrutiny and social movements continue to expose tremendous gaps in representation of marginalized groups.

Given the inextricable relationship between politics and economics, a major topic in both the Political Economy and the Government and Politics chapters is the impact of economic conditions on voting. For example, HLAS CE for General Political Economy, Dr. Jonathan Hiskey, discusses the research on economic voting by highlighting works about conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs (p. 407). Research on these types of programs has been published for Colombia (item 1764), Chile (items 1794 and 1800—with a specific focus on women), and Argentina (item 1824—focused on children). Another study provides a history of CCT programs in Brazil (item 2228). And, last but not least, a comparison between programs in Brazil and Argentina helps to explain the different approaches to creating administrative ties between economic conditions and voting (item 1874).

Finally, as I reflect on the high quality of the introductory essays and the more than 2,200 publications included in this volume, I find myself in awe of the HLAS contributing editors for the superb syntheses they have provided for their respective sections. The majority of the publications are in Spanish, English, and Portuguese; however, I would like to highlight the inclusion of publications in languages such as Italian and German in the Handbook—part of a long-standing HLAS tradition to attempt to canvass publications issued worldwide. These works help to paint a broader picture of Latin America from international perspectives. With globalization and international trade relations continuing to rise, it is imperative for students and scholars of Latin America to investigate sources not just from within Latin America and the US, but also from Europe, Africa, and the Pacific Rim to gain invaluable new perspectives on traditional themes.

With some exceptions, the closing date for works annotated in this volume was 2015. Publications received and cataloged at the Library of Congress after that date will be annotated in the next Social Sciences volume, HLAS 73.

The web address for HLAS Online is www.loc.gov/hlas. The Handbook’s web site continues to offer, free of charge, all bibliographic records corresponding to HLAS Volumes 1–71. 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 website also includes a list of HLAS subject headings, a list of journal titles and the corresponding journal abbreviations found in HLAS records, tables of contents and linked introductory essays for Volumes 50–65 (www.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 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 electronic resources available at your institution.

HLAS records from Volume 44 onward may also be searched through the advanced features of HLAS Web. Searches may be refined by language, publication date, place of publication, and/or type of material (book or journal article). The address for HLAS Web is hlasopac.loc.gov. Several enhancements to the HLAS Web display of bibliographic records ease the transition from the site to the Library of Congress Online Catalog and offer new ways of navigating the citations. In addition, selected bibliographic records in the Library of Congress Online Catalog (catalog.loc.gov) contain HLAS annotations.

In 2011, the Library formed the HLAS Conversion Project Working Group to begin the work of combining the two existing HLAS electronic resources—HLAS Web and HLAS Online—into one website. We are working from Volume 49 backwards, adding the retrospective bibliographic records to HLAS Web. As we go to press, Volumes 44-49 are now searchable in HLAS Web along with records from Volume 50 onward.


Dr. Suzanne Oakdale began covering the Ethnology: Brazil section. Dr. Oakdale is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico.

For the section on Mexico, Dr. Daniel Klooster enlisted the assistance of Dr. Alejandro Mercado Celis of the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Unidad Cuajimalpa, Mexico, for a local perspective. Dr. David J. Robinson, Professor of Geography, Syracuse University, reviews the materials for the Southern Cone Geography section. Robinson has been a close ally of HLAS for many years; he was one of the early adapters to HLAS Online and provided valuable feedback during the development of our initial online presence.

International Relations
Dr. Félix Martín, Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations in the School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University, has agreed to cover the South American International Relations section in addition to the Hispanic Caribbean for HLAS Vol. 71.

Political Economy
Dr. Laura Randall, Professor Emerita, Hunter College (CCNY), once again stepped in to review the publications on Mexican Political Economy. Dr. Silvia Borzutzky, Professor of International Relations and Politics, Carnegie Mellon University, prepared the Chilean Political Economy section.

Dr. Jorge Capetillo-Ponce, Associate Professor of Sociology, and Acting Chair, Latino Studies Program, University of Massachusetts Boston, reviewed the General Sociology section. Dr. Shênia de Lima canvassed the materials for the Brazil: Sociology section. Dr. Lima received her PhD in 2012 from the Political Science Department of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. She was working as a consultant in the DC area during the preparation of this volume.

Italian Language Publications
Lucia Wolf, Italian Specialist in the European Division of the Library of Congress, has begun reviewing recent Italian-language titles on Latin America for HLAS.

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