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A.B. Bejar, 2022 Junior Fellow, on Family (His)Stories and Andean Heritage

La versión en Español de este artículo puede leerla aquí.

This is a guest post by A.B. Bejar, 2022 Junior Fellow, who holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Affairs from The George Washington University and Master’s degree in International and Multicultural Education from the University of San Francisco.

                                                     A.B. Bejar with Mama Pinina in Peru, 2022

Working at the Library of Congress this summer as a Junior Fellow has been a one-of-a-kind experience. I had the opportunity to work with the Latin American, Caribbean, and European (LAC&E) Division of the Library to create a research guide titled, Interconnecting Worlds: Weaving Community Narratives, Andean Histories & the Library’s Collections.

Not only did the project consist of pulling relevant Andean and Quechua focused materials from the Library’s collections, but our team also interviewed Andean and Quechua artists, musicians, scholars, educators, poets, photographers, and community members. In addition to showing the breadth of resources at the Library, we wanted the guide to reflect the diverse voices and perspectives that encompass Andean and Quechua communities.

Prior to starting this fellowship, I conducted research on Quechua language revitalization as a part of my Master’s Program at the University of San Francisco. Through my thesis/field project, I learned about the many ways Quechua folx are reconnecting and strengthening their relationship to their heritage language. After graduating in the Spring of 2022, I was excited to work on this guide because I wanted to further my understanding of Quechua knowledges, cultures, and my own Quechua identity.

I grew up learning about the Incan Empire and Andean cosmovisions from my father, while hearing stories about my family’s Andean roots from my paternal and maternal grandparents. In particular, my maternal grandmother, who we call Mama Pinina, has played a major role in my personal and academic journeys toward reconnecting with my Quechua identity and language.

Mama Pinina was born in a very small rural town called Andagua in the Peruvian Andes. At times it feels like she has lived many lifetimes because of how many stories she has to share. Out of the many lessons I have learned from her, I would say the importance of storytelling heavily influenced the way I interpreted the research guide.

I wanted the guide’s audience to gain a deeper understanding of Quechua, Andean, and Indigenous storytelling. Stories have allowed us to learn about our histories and each other since the beginning of time. Their preservation, whether within a family like mine or at the Library of Congress, necessitates a collaborative effort from all of us. I hope the guide can be a bridge for us to connect to one another and learn more about Quechua and Andean peoples and (his)stories.

A heart-filled thank you goes out to my co-Junior Fellow Monica Soto and our project mentor Giselle Aviles. They contributed to a strong culture of support at the Library and I consider myself fortunate to have worked with them this summer.

Añay sonqoymanta. (Thank you)

Discover more

Cultural Exchanges in Quechua Dictionaries, A history of encounters told through lexicons. StoryMaps are multimedia storytelling publications on Library’s materials that can include rare books, photographs, audio recordings, music, maps, and more. All the Library’s StoryMaps can be found here.

Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS): A Resource Guide The Handbook of Latin American Studies is a bibliography on Latin America consisting of works selected and annotated by scholars. 

The PALABRA Archive at the Library of Congress The PALABRA Archive is a collection of original audio recordings of 20th and 21st century Luso-Hispanic poets and writers reading from their works. This link takes you to the audio recordings of South American authors. This other link takes you to PALABRA Indigenous Voices Project, a subset of the PALABRA Archive focused on poetry and literature written and spoken in Indigenous languages.

Library of Congress Research Guides Library’s guides organized by research topic and collections – these include both online materials, and materials only available on site. The guides related to the Caribbean, Iberian, and Latin American Studies can be found here.


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