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Connections to Andean Histories Superpowered with the Library’s Digital Primary Sources!

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This is a guest post by Giselle M. Aviles, reference librarian in the Hispanic Reading Room of the Latin American, Caribbean and European Division.

Interconnecting Worlds: Weaving Community Narratives, Andean Histories & the Library’s Collections” is an interview series from the Library of Congress that weaves language, storytelling, visual art, music, photography, textiles, and other forms of Indigenous expression together to create shared experiences and connections. This summer I worked with three interns—A.B. Bejar, Monica Soto, and Pamela Padilla—to create a companion research guide with resources about Andean countries and its diaspora in the United States. The guide aims to facilitate research about Andean peoples, cultures, and knowledge by connecting Library of Congress collections to the Quechua language, storytelling, literature, visual arts, and music.

Image of a woman weaving a poncho in front of a adobe house
Colombia. Comisión Corográfica Sponsor & Paz, M. M. Weaver, Pasto Province. Nariño Colombia, 1853

Image of a man in a hat standing next to a large boulder with a variety of carvings
Manuel María Paz, artist. Stone Hieroglyphics, near Aipe, on the Left Bank of the Magdalena, Province of Neiva. Comisión Corográfica.1857.

A special component of this guide is the voices of the community that speak to us in Spanish, Quechua and English, interviews that are vital primary sources offering opportunities to develop language skills! Heritage language learners in the U.S. can benefit from this guide that connects the Library’s collections to interviews with students, professors, and community members from New York, Virginia, Massachusetts, Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina.

  • Dr. Americo Mendoza-Mori, professor at Harvard University, shares his perspective on Indigenous languages as a form of sharing knowledge and its power to create, influence, and strengthen connections to heritage and identity.
  • Shana Inofuentes, founder of The Quechua Project in Virginia, discusses Runasimi (Quechua) revitalization through community-building efforts within the context of the Quechua-Bolivian community in Washington, D.C.
  • New York-based visual artists Megan Rakos and Sam Herscher narrate art making as a part of their (re)connection journeys to their Quechua and Andean roots.
  • Suni Sonqo Vizcarra Wood, from New Mexico, talks about art as a tool for decolonization and a way of uniting Indigenous peoples to their cultures, communities, and to one another.
  • From Peru, musician, composer, and activist Renata Flores powerfully uses Andean music to bring an Indigenous language such as Quechua into the mainstream and preserve its beauty, culture, and future.

Further your research into various topics in the interviews by delving into the Library’s collections of digitized books, listening to audio recordings, analyzing an image or a poster, or  discussing with your peers the life experiences that the people are telling us.

A  StoryMap, Cultural Exchanges in Quechua Dictionaries, A history of encounters told through lexicons, uses items from the 14th through 16th centuries in the Library’s digital collections to narrate Spanish encounters with the Incan Empire and to demonstrate how the colonization of South America brought on a series of substantial changes in both Indigenous and Spanish populations.

We hope that you enjoy navigating the guide and if you have any questions, please send us a message through Ask a Librarian here. Añay, thank you, gracias!

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