Comunidad letrada, lettered community
Alternative and independent publishing in Latin America
Editors: Lisa Gardinier, Marc Delcan, and David Woken
Expected: Summer 2023
The concept of bibliodiversity is frequently applied to Latin America, reflecting the breadth of publishing in the region, from mainstream sectors of transnational publishing conglomerates and academic publishing, to innovation in open access, to growing communities of independent publishers. That bibliodiversity, however, is not fully represented in US libraries, despite independent presses producing some of the most interesting work in the Latin American printed word. As collection development practices become streamlined in the US, depth and nuance is sacrificed for ease of acquisition and predictable choices, ignoring marginalized perspectives and emerging talent.
Independent publishing in Latin America varies more than just geographically. Established independent publishing houses that have survived generations without being acquired by transnational conglomerates bear little resemblance to “autonomous” publishers embedded in the communities and social movements they document. Somewhere in between are small presses, often specializing in literature, and often at the forefront of new cultural production. Whether publishing zines or the work of an established writer, independent publishing is perhaps most united by an intentional commitment to the printed word in our digital world.
This collection presents US librarians with a sampling of the spectrum of Latin American independent publishing and its role in library collections. The collection includes essays from librarians, publishers, scholars, and writers, including scholarly studies, publisher manifestos, and personal reflections from writers and publishers about their commitments to independent publishing. Librarians will find studies of the role independent publishing plays in representing marginalized voices in university collections and teaching, descriptions of the circuits through which independent publications circulate and publishing models Latin American independent publishers pursue, and reflections from participants on why they publish and distribute their works outside of established multinational and corporate networks.
Lisa Gardinier is the Curator for International Literature at the University of Iowa Libraries (Iowa City, USA). She has published on Latin American collections in US libraries in the Journal of Academic Librarianship and College & Research Libraries. She holds Master’s degrees in library science from Indiana University and Latin American studies from the University of Arizona.
Marc Delcan is an autonomous editor for Ona Ediciones, bookseller and publisher for La Reci (San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas), and a member of the Pensaré Cartoneras collective. He is the co-author of Cartonear es camino: Colectivo cartonero, autónomo anticolonial [The path is cardboard: Cartonera collectives, anticolonial autonomy] (Pensaré, 2019). Marc holds a Master’s in Humanities (Comparative Studies) from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona).
David Woken is the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Librarian at the University of Chicago Library. He has published on critical pedagogy methods with historical primary source materials and U.S. farmworker history, and is currently working as co-principal investigator on a digital scholarship project to preserve Mesoamerican-language materials held at the University of Chicago. He holds Masters degrees in Latin American History from Indiana University and Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.