Standing in Between. Digital Archive of Manuel Mosquera Garcés.
How have the life and achievements of preeminent Afro-Colombians been depicted in digital spaces? Which aspects of their lives have been highlighted in those efforts? What do those projects talk about the way these peoples have been remembered? Starting from these questions, Standing in Between. The Digital Archive of Manuel Mosquera Garcés is an initiative aiming to deepen in the history of Afro-Colombian politicians and intellectuals from the mid 20th century by creating an extended (digital) narrative of Manuel Mosquera Garcés.
Born in the Pacific coast in 1907, Mosquera Garcés was among the first Afro-Colombians to reach prominence in the Colombian government between the 1940s and 1970s. A leader of the Conservative party, Mosquera Garcés was part of a generation of politicians coming from the periphery who actively worked towards the inclusion of their home region into national dynamics. His story, however, has been blurred within the historical narratives of the country. Mosquera Garcés’ legacy does not easily fit into the dominant narratives typical of a Colombia’s official and centralized history (white, conservative, wealthy, eager to replicate Western and Catholic values), nor the mainstream narratives of the Afro-Colombians (black, liberal, underprivileged, eager to claim their African roots). His story in sharp contrast against those narratives, as he was a conservative politician from a marginalized region of the country who believed profoundly in Catholic principles. Additionally, he was black, a lawyer and a passionate reader of intellectuals of the Western tradition. He worked in Bogotá (capital city) while he was standing for his people in Chocó. The project is designed as a digital repository that will publicly display— for the first time —Mosquera Garcés’ personal archive, along with additional documents related to his work, contextualizing the whole set as a curated collection.
Based on Kim Gallon’s work on the “politics of recovery”(1) and the ways historiographical reinterpretations could be considered political enterprises to restore the “humanity” of black people as historical, political, and intellectual agents, Standing in Between will seek to restore the historical role and agency of Afro-Colombians in the digital domain. Connected to Liliana Ángulo’s artwork “A case of reparation,”(2) which liberates archival sources to reveal historical erasures of the Botanical Expedition, the project is guided by the importance of offering sources to generate analysis with an extensive level of historical detail. Indeed among different local blogs and websites, including Historia Personajes Afrocolombianos, Enamórate del Chocó, and República de Colores, Mosquera Garcés has been included as a historical Afro-Colombian figure. In the form of biographies and informative articles, these private initiatives are rooted in an urgency to present the legacy of Afro-Colombians in order to incorporate these stories as part of the national identity and historical discourse. The University of Vanderbilt has published part of the correspondence of Manuel Zapata Olivella (black novelist) and historical documents of the Pacific Coast, while on a local level the appearance of digital initiatives and archives is still an emerging process.
Standing in Between aims to join these efforts examining Mosquera Garcés’s archive, which was preserved by his family but until now it has not been scholarly reviewed, by considering three lenses that influenced his academic and political life: religion, language, and race. Archival material is diverse, and includes photographs, sound archives, bibliographic documents, and correspondence dating from the 1920s to the 1970s. Due to Mosquera’s involvement in several periodical publications, as well as his work in the government in different capacities, the privately preserved documents do not offer a complete body of documentation of his political and scholarly life. In order to provide a more comprehensive context, the project has carried archival work in several public archives and libraries, to broadly identify his political agenda and academic interests. The archival work paid special attention to content reflecting his religious thought and conservative partisanship.
The initial work done on the digitization and cataloging of these materials, and the preliminary findings of curating this archive, will be presented in this poster. Additionally, in this early stage of the project, the design of a timeline will be displayed as a way of visualizing the connections between Mosquera Garcés and his generation of peers in his native Chocó poster, all of whom were bridging the gap between the center and the periphery through their participation in the national government. This first visual tool will add references to the collection, other digital projects on Afro-Colombians, and oral histories conducted for this project.
- Gallon, K. (2016). Making a Case for the Black Digital Humanities. In her article, Dr. Gallon In Gold M. & Klein L. (Eds.), Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016 (pp. 42-49). Minneapolis; London: University of Minnesota Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctt1cn6thb.7
- Ángulo, Liliana. (2015). Un caso de reparación. Un proyecto de reparación histórica y humanidades digitales. http://uncasodereparacion.altervista.org/?doing_wp_cron=1524636377.0468459129333496093750 (accessed 20 April 2018).