Networks of Communication and Collaboration in Latin America

Nora Christine Benedict (nbenedict@princeton.edu), Princeton University, United States of America and Cecily Raynor (cecily.raynor@mcgill.ca), McGill University and Roberto Cruz Arzabal (rcruz.arzabal@gmail.com), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México / Universidad Iberoamericana and Rhian Lewis (rhian.lewis@mail.mcgill.ca), McGill University and Norberto Gomez Jr. (norbertogomezjr@gmail.com), Montgomery College and Carolina Gaínza (carolina.gainza@udp.cl), Universidad Diego Portales

Multiple Paper Session: “Networks of Communication and Collaboration in Latin America”

Panel Overview:

Drawing on this year’s conference theme of “bridges/puentes,” this panel examines the ways in which networks emerge among individuals working and operating in Latin America and beyond during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We use digital tools to explore how artists and intellectuals connected and collaborated across countries in the early part of the twentieth century. We assess the linguistic and cultural dimensions of web readership and its communities. We investigate alternative digital distribution methods for contemporary Mexican poetry in the twenty-first century. We analyze how the visibility of (digital) narratives surrounding sexual violence in Latin America creates a unique space for necessary dialogues. We look to the particular expressions of disappearance, mortality and even spirituality in Latin American Post Internet culture. And we study how collaborative practices in digital literary creation alter the various ways in which we produce and consume texts.

We, thus, consider not only how networks are formed within Latin America, but also the ways in which these links and connections extend to other regions of the world. The networks we analyze range from the literary and social, to the economic and political. How, for instance, are contemporary print forms the product of their settings, their individual publics, and their social networks? Are artistic networks conceived and maintained differently prior to the digital age? How might contemporary hashtag projects in the region expand the notion of the trans-Hispanic web? How do certain social media platforms alter our conception of self, nation, and world through their unique development of networks? How do cultural and artistic narratives eliminate social hierarchies and reveal networks of social justice? Viewed together as a collective whole (or a network of their own, perhaps), these projects explore what it means to be connected across geographies, cultures and time.

Paper #1

Title: Global Networks of Cultural Production

Abstract:

Victoria Ocampo, her world-renowned journal Sur, and her publishing house of the same name, all loom large over Latin American cultural production in the twentieth century. While much has been written about this Argentine socialite and her impressive literary enterprises, a great deal of work still remains to be done with regard to the extent of her global reach. In an effort to address these issues, I am engineering a digital project, “Global Networks of Cultural Production,” that details a complex web of connected intellectuals, both inside and outside of Latin America, through their correspondence, translations, prologues, and edited editions. In this presentation I will describe the central cruxes of my digital project as well as provide an initial demonstration of the database I am creating. The first layer, “The Sur Enterprise,” presents users with the option to navigate among three modules: People, Sur, and Editorial Sur. Within each module, users can interact with data pertaining to Ocampo’s networks. For instance, in the “People” module, users can explore the occupation(s), birthplace, death place, and sex for each person that is linked to Ocampo’s literary network (and pinpoint overlaps among individuals), while the “ Sur” module allows users to interact with contributions to the literary journal Sur (grouped by genre, author, and issue). The second layer, “Visual Essays,” provides a series of network analysis visualizations that demonstrate the spatial and temporal impact of Ocampo’s efforts on the Latin American, European, and Asian populaces. Critical essays that narrate the significance of the queried data and its visual iteration accompany all of these visualizations. Each of these layers is fueled by a relational database that holds up the established links with an archive of metadata gleaned from a variety of documents, including correspondence, contracts, and even physically published books and magazines. All of these dimensions work together to digitally model Victoria Ocampo’s work in creating networks, literary circles, and literary canons.

Paper #2

Title: The Digital Readership Networks of the Trans-Hispanic Web

Abstract:

Despite the position of Spanish as the fifth most prominent language in overall web content, scholars are only beginning to explore the nuances of the trans-Hispanic web (2015). Drawing on case studies from Spain, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Mexico, my research assesses the web as a linguistic and cultural territory that can be mapped using digital tools and methods. “The Digital Geographies of the Hispanic World” is the first comprehensive geographical study of the web as an arena for reading and engaging with literary content. This is a project with two intersecting goals: 1) to map the readership of web-based content related to Latin American literature through a series of Spanish-language websites, identifying the networks they establish; 2) to determine if digital literary production conforms to a broader post-national aesthetic observed in print literature. Indeed, in the twenty-first century, digital content comes to life as it intersects with web analytics, aiding scholars in grasping the cultural and linguistic configurations that emerge around web content. Given the new possibilities of data analysis of this rich content, scholars are beginning to realize that how readers engage with web-based literary content often has more to do with language communities than the IP addresses or national contexts from which literary content arises. This presentation will explore some of the most recent data collected on web readership and network analysis of a series of leading literary websites from the Hispanic world.

Paper #3

Title: Post-Print Culture and Publishing Networks in Contemporary Mexican Poetry

Abstract:

In the last fifteen years, independent publishing houses have been the central space that has defined the most relevant literary themes and forms of contemporary Mexican poetry. These publishers have changed the inertia of the literary field through strategies that produce an aggregate value to their books, based on symbolic frameworks and alternative distribution practices. These unique methods of book circulation enable experimental poetics to find an auspicious space in independent publishing houses. The publishers in question use the academic prestige of experimental poetics, while speculative poetics nourish intellectual distinction when published by independent firms.

Nevertheless, despite the efforts to distribute books, independent publishers do not have the economic resources for national or international shipping. As a response to those problems, in recent years web platforms and collaboration networks have appeared, allowing the free circulation of books in PDF format. The existence of both types of distribution poses questions regarding the social forms of circulation for contemporary Mexican poetry, particularly in terms of how literary forms establish a dialogue or refuse to deal with those alternative practices of distribution and distinction. To answer these questions, I propose “post-print” as a concept that can be broad enough to explain the relationship between print publishing and digital distribution, as well as the use of consent and collaboration in the reproduction of experimental literary forms.

Paper #4

Title: Nuestro Primer Acoso: Digital Networks and Collective Action against Sexual Violence

Abstract:

In the spring of 2016, new digital activist networks emerged to address gendered and sexual violence in Latin America.  Of the hashtags generated by these movements, few gained the public recognition of #MiPrimerAcoso (or “My First Harassment” or “My First Abuse”), a hashtag that encouraged individuals to tweet their first experiences of sexual violence. When evaluating #MiPrimerAcoso’s popularity, it is necessary to contextualize the concrete metrics of #MiPrimerAcoso within the intangible, affective dimensions that characterize the streams of discourse that grew out of the hashtag: the networks of #MiPrimerAcoso formed on the basis of shared experiences and shared public feelings. This analysis seeks to surpass traditional metrics of Twitter engagement and delve deeper into the kinds of connections that users form with each other within the intangible streams of discourse generated by the hashtag. For example, what makes retweeting a news story about #MiPrimerAcoso different from retweeting another user’s story of sexual violence? The quantitative dimensions of #MiPrimerAcoso's digital proliferation – the prevalence of retweets, for example, or the use of other hashtags to link formerly disparate currents of digital conversation – are explored alongside a critical analysis of the discursive conditions generated under the hashtag’s narrative premise. In examining this dialogue, this project illustrates the networks of affect that stitched recollections of trauma into a political outcry. 

Paper #5

Title: Critical Networks: Latin American Death, Remembrance, and Recovery in the Post-Internet

Abstract:

The faceless of Latin America, the desaparecidos (disappeared), historically total in the tens of thousands within multiple nations, with extreme numbers in Chile and Argentina, due primarily to military dictatorships. Thus, a history of disappearance and loss have become embedded into the national psyche of many in Latin America, leading to the advent of “truth commissions” during the “memory boom” of the 1970s and 1980s. Today, Latin America, one of the fastest growing Internet populations in the world, now finds itself rapidly joining a globalized electronic culture. Arguably, the network leads to monoculture, and a commoditization of the individual, a result of the electronic Culture Industry. Therefore, today, Latin America may find itself disappearing digitally.

 

With digital remembrance and disillusionment in mind, this paper investigates the particular expressions of disappearance, mortality and even spirituality in Latin American Post Internet culture through the work of Brazilian artist Eva Rocha, primarily, as well as Teresa Margolles of Mexico, both of whose work is devoted to the outcast, the dead, and the forgotten. Through an analysis of these critical works, one may find a foil to the new electronic colonialism of the global digital networ

Paper #6

Title: Collaborative Practices in Digital Literary Creation

Abstract:

​In Latin America, digital literature is a relatively new phenomenon. In the analysis of Latin American digital texts, I have considered both their material composition as well as aspects of authorship and reception practices. Materiality here refers to the technologies that have been used by the author in the production of the digital text. Depending on the technology used in digital narratives, we find texts that range from simple productions—like hypertext based productions—to more complex texts that include music, images, moving text, and also make use of many different software. Thus, the effects produced in readers can be aesthetically varied, and are determined by the technologies used to create the literary works in question. Although it is true that the specificity of the medium is a main component in the study of digital literature, the sole attention to the material elements of the texts is not enough to grasp some features that are unique to these productions, especially in a region where the introduction and uses of new technologies are strongly related to politics.

 

In this presentation, I examine how both the production and the reception of literature have been affected by digital technology, with special emphasis on issues related to Latin American digital literature. I will analyze Jaime Alejandro Rodriguez's Narratopedia, Doménico Chiappe's La Huella de Cosmos, and Leonardo Valencia's and Eugenio Tiselli's El Libro Flotante in order to highlight collective practices of creation involved in digital productions. Through a discussion of these issues, I offer an overview of ongoing changes wrought by digital technology in contemporary Latin American cultural production.