DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly
Volume 14 Number 4
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Introduction: Digital Humanities & Colonial Latin American Studies

Clayton McCarl <clayton_dot_mccarl_at_unf_dot_edu>, University of North Florida
For Linda M. Rodriguez
This special issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly examines intersections between colonial Latin American studies (CLAS)[1] and digital humanities (DH) theory and practice. The essays collected here touch on matters that pertain to numerous fields, including anthropology, archaeology, art history, history, linguistics, and literature. By doing so in a digital context, they blur the lines between many of these fields, and point to several major themes that predominate across digital humanities scholarship today.
The project was motivated by the recognition of three realities. First, digital practice has become fundamental to how scholarly work is conducted in the study of the colonial world. Second, scholarship being carried out today demonstrates that digital methods have the potential to significantly enhance the field going forward. Third, in order to realize that potential, the diverse community of practitioners engaged in such work needs to better articulate how digital scholarship is conceptualized and conducted within CLAS.
In this introduction, we briefly provide context for understanding the two areas of inquiry at the center of this discussion. To do so, we first consider in broad strokes the central concerns of each, proposing ways we believe the two overlap in terms of objectives and methods. We then step back to examine the evolution of digital work within CLAS, arguing that such scholarship has followed a different path than in digital humanities communities based in the United States and Europe. We propose that legacies of colonialism have shaped this development by obliging scholars to confront material realities and theoretical problems that are often distinct from those that drive digital humanities practice elsewhere.
Working from this premise, we then suggest parameters for identifying a set of tendencies that can define the field we term digital colonial Latin American studies (DCLAS). To do so, we analyze trends in digital scholarship within the field, examining, in particular, how those ideas and concerns inform the articles in this special collection. We conclude by reflecting on the challenges that the broader community of scholars who work on colonial Latin America must face before being able to more fully harness digital methods to transform research and teaching about the colonial world.

Two parallel, overlapping fields

This project brings together two areas of study that are both broadly and capaciously defined. We offer our working definitions here with the purpose of better orienting readers towards the content of this special issue.
Defining DH in precise terms has long presented a challenge. Certainly, there is a sense in which we are all, as researchers and teachers who use computers, participants in DH, whether we are conducting our research through online databases and search engines, composing scholarly monographs using word processing software, or teaching with digital images or remote learning technologies.[2] However, for many scholars, and for the purposes of this special issue, this work becomes “digital humanities” when the critical and theoretical apparatus surrounding research, teaching, and publication — which already encompasses disciplinary and cross-disciplinary frameworks — extends to the use of digital technologies.[3]
Even calling DH a “field” is problematic, with many asserting that it is better understood as a collection of scholarly tendencies than as clearly defined areas of inquiry. Much work within the digital humanities consists of reflection on those tendencies, and in the sense of such scholarship, DH does exist as a category with its own boundaries. Beyond such work, however, DH is, to a large extent, something that must be done within other scholarly areas. Put another way, DH is a space in which other scholarly areas can be carried out.
One basic defining tension within DH in recent years has been a struggle for diversity and inclusion. DH as a field of study has been marked by the predominance of European and U.S.-based institutions, scholars, and languages. Uneven access to digital technologies has contributed to this outcome, but other factors are also involved, such as differing levels of institutional support and access to the financing needed to support large-scale DH endeavors. In part to counter this tendency, the global and multilingual movements within DH have worked to make the field more expansive and diverse by actively engaging with questions of access and equity, and by drawing on critical frameworks including feminist and decolonial studies [Burns 2020] [Risam 2018].
Latin America is one of the areas that traditionally has been underrepresented within DH. It is a vast and diverse region in geographical, linguistic, cultural, religious, racial and ethnic terms, as well as in other ways. Scholars of Latin America carry out their work within disciplinary areas across the humanities and social sciences, but many also identify with the broad interdisciplinary field known as Latin American studies (LAS), whose presence is most visibly marked each year by the international congress of the Latin American Studies Association.
CLAS can be understood, if imperfectly, as a chronologically demarcated subfield of LAS. While most scholarly activity within LAS today is concerned with the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, CLAS focuses on the lesser studied period that spans from the arrival of European settlers at various points starting in the fifteenth century to the disruption of European colonial rule in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. CLAS is also set apart by its theoretical and methodological approaches. CLAS shares certain characteristics with LAS more broadly — such as an emphasis on alterity, inequality, and the vindication of historical injustices — and scholars in the field, as in LAS more broadly, engage with interdisciplinary areas including ethnic studies, Indigenous studies, African diasporic studies, and post-colonial and decolonial studies. At the same time, CLAS does so in the context of different historical and cultural realities, working often from distinct types of evidence. Like scholars of the Early Modern period elsewhere, those who work in CLAS rely on primary sources that include notarial records, printed books, correspondence, sacred objects, works of art, artifacts, and archaeological data.[4]
Brought together, DH and CLAS represent two areas of scholarly practice that are, in many ways, highly compatible. Both are fundamentally and self-consciously interdisciplinary, thriving on the interaction of scholars across traditional boundaries. Both embrace broad possibilities for engaging with and understanding textual and visual material, as well as historical and geographical processes. DH, like CLAS, places emphasis on rethinking dynamics of power, dismantling outdated stereotypes, and decolonizing knowledge. Important currents in both CLAS and DH have been concerned with the ownership and preservation of cultural heritage, and the accessibility of such material to both academic and general audiences. Scholars in CLAS, as in DH, recognize the need for cross-institutional initiatives and partnerships between researchers, archives, and others.
In what follows, we argue that DH is a particularly propitious space in which scholars of the colonial period can operate, due to the inherent compatibilities we identify here. The experimental nature of digital humanities research can free scholars of the colonial world to formulate new types of questions, and more fully realize the goals of interdisciplinarity and theoretical innovation that underlie the field. Promoting and supporting digital work within the study of the colonial world can also allow us to draw in new types of scholars who can renovate and re-energize the field in ways that we may not be able to envision.

The evolution of digital approaches within colonial Latin American studies

The digital humanities as practiced within CLAS have followed a unique evolution. In the United States, Canada, and Europe, among other places, DH is generally understood to have emerged out of corpus linguistics, with early practitioners focused on the application of computer technology to conduct systematic analysis of textual material [Jacob 2020] [Trettien 2020].
In Latin America, in contrast, the origins of much of today’s digital practice can be traced to the facsimiles, scholarly editions, and recovery projects produced in the region in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As Mercedes Salómon Salazar references in this special issue, one consequence of colonial rule in the Americas has been the broad dispersal of the primary sources of colonial and pre-Columbian history, from Indigenous texts and works of art to notarial records and printed books. In the wake of independence from European colonial rule, gaining and sharing access to these records became a task of primary importance for scholars based in the Americas [Zamora 2004] [Alpert-Abrams 2017].
This led to a proliferation of manual transcriptions, printed editions, photo-reproductions, plaster replicas, dictionaries, and bibliographies, many produced by and for researchers in the Americas and the Caribbean [Bueno 2018] [Murrieta et al. 2020]. These projects were often developed, at great personal expense, with the express intent of correcting for the colonial silencing of the historical record by providing local access to cultural heritage, or in the words of Christina Bueno, as part of “el esfuerzo por fabricar una historia patria en el gran proceso de construcción de la nación”[5] [Bueno 2018, 206]. They drew on new technologies, from plaster casts to photostats and printing presses, to achieve these goals [Mundy and Leibsohn 1996].
The spread of digital technology has accelerated these processes, with consequences for how CLAS is practiced. Projects that were made digital in the 1990s and the early 2000s, such as the Vistas project, the digital edition of Guaman Poma de Ayala’s Nueva corónica y buen gobierno (2001), and Slave Voyages (formerly the Trans-Atlantic and Intra-American Slave Trade Database), all seek to broaden access to historical records and works of art that have been widely dispersed or historically undervalued, while building the scholarly apparatus that enables students and a general public to make meaning out of difficult texts and objects. These projects also point to new challenges introduced by the digital age, including the uneven distribution of access to digital resources across the Americas, the dominance of English and the United States in DH, the undervaluing of digital work at academic institutions, and the difficulty of sustaining digital projects for the long term.
Many of these early projects started on paper or began off-line. Rolena Adorno’s edition of Guaman Poma began as a hand transcription in 1977 and appeared first as a printed volume in 1987, while Slave Voyages originated as a series of databases designed by individual scholars in the 1960s, and Vistas was first made available on CDRom in 2000 [Adorno 2006] [Mundy and Leibsohn 2017]. The traces of that earlier time, and those earlier technologies, are still visible in these projects: in their theoretical frameworks, their thematic organization, their encoding schemas, their use of language, and their interface design. Most visibly, among these early efforts we tend to find projects that are not designed for accessibility or for smartphone use, and that were created by scholars in Europe and the United States without the active participation of Latin American, Black, or Indigenous communities.
Thanks to the visionary work of historians of the African diaspora based in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean, as well substantial funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Slave Voyages has been able to reinvent itself in recent years as a “digital memorial” to the Africans whose forced labor built our nations.[6] This reinvention follows the lead of projects that were born digital in the last two decades, laying the groundwork for the new kind of digital colonial Latin American Studies that this special issue aims to explore.

Current trends within digital colonial Latin American studies

While diverse in terms of materials and methodologies, the work being carried out today within DCLAS is characterized broadly by a set of common features. Much of this work focuses on the recovery of and access to cultural heritage, seeks to uncover hidden narratives and geographies, poses questions about labor and pedagogy, and emphasizes problems of theory and praxis. While these concerns are not unique to DCLAS, the ways they across the field support the idea of a clearly identifiable area of digital practice. This convergence of theoretical and practical concerns across DCLAS is, in many ways, a result of the special circumstances of CLAS and the challenges that scholars face, and indeed, many of the dynamics we outline here are also central to non–digital work within CLAS.

1. Recovery & Access to Cultural Heritage

Recovery projects are initiatives that aim to “locate, preserve and disseminate” historical records that have been devalued, dispersed, and destroyed through historical processes such as colonialism [Recovery 2020]. These projects depend on cross-organizational and multinational collaboration, and frequently decenter Europe and the United States. They provide access to widely dispersed collections of archival materials while building on new methods for crowdsourced transcription, text encoding, and descriptive metadata that better reflect the ambiguities and linguistic complexities of the colonial period. Within DCLAS, these projects have proliferated so widely that we cannot list them all here: some examples include the Primeros Libros de las Américas, the Fundación Histórica Neogranadina, A Colony in Crisis, Escritos de Mujeres, and coloniaLab.[7]
Three articles in this special issue address the challenges of recovery work. In her article on the Catálogo Colectivo de Marcas de Fuego, an index of authorities, Mercedes Isabel Salomón Salazar examines the obstacles faced by digital projects that need to reference bibliographical materials across different institutional systems. She demonstrates the difficulties of standardizing the study of provenance and coordinating a project across organizational and national boundaries. She also illustrates how collaborative recovery projects can lead to the uncovering of histories that were erased by the boundaries of collecting institutions.
George Allen Broadwell et al. address the particular challenges of recovering Indigenous materials in collaboration with scholarly, student, and Indigenous communities. They reflect upon Ticha, a digital text explorer for writings in Colonial Zapotec. They explain how Ticha provides access to little-known archival materials, enabling modern-day speakers of Zapotec to connect with the history of their language and communities. The authors also examine Ticha as a model for partnering with Indigenous stakeholders in the production of knowledge and the design of digital humanities endeavors.
In a similar fashion, Laura Matthew and Michael Bannister consider Nahuatl/Nawat in Central America (NECA), a project focused on recovering and making accessible Nahuan-language texts written during the colonial period in Central America. They explore the reasons for prioritizing this corpus and explain the history of the project and its technical evolution. By looking in part at site analytics, they also analyze the challenges that this project has faced, and formulate a model for moving forward.
We would also like to note here one additional project focused on recovery that we were, in the end, unable to feature in this issue. Digital Aponte is a project “dedicated to the life and work of José Antonio Aponte, a free man of color, carpenter, artist, and alleged leader of a massive antislavery conspiracy and rebellion in colonial Cuba in 1811-1812.” Digital Aponte is a creative reimagining of what it means to engage with archival silence; its subject is a lost volume produced by Aponte and recalled through notarial archives from the trial that would end his life [Rodriguez and Ferrer 2019]. Linda Rodriguez, the creator of Digital Aponte, passed away during the process of assembling this project and her contribution to this issue was never completed. Linda’s presence in our community ended too soon, and we dedicate this special issue to her.

2. Uncovering hidden narratives and geographies

Thinking critically about representations of place and space has been fundamental to CLAS, which has a long history of engaging with and disrupting the interaction between Indigenous boundaries and colonial borders. These areas of study benefit from new digital methodologies, which bring together what Thomas Padilla has named “collections-as-data” with technologies for geospatial representation [Padilla 2020]. For example, projects like Maria José Afanador Llach’s Mapping Nature in New Granada and the broadly collaborative Power of Attorney take advantage of the affordances of digital technology to see history differently, allowing us to engage with historical categories ranging from borders and languages to legal codes and natural resources.
In this special issue, Patricia Murrieta-Flores et al. approach these questions by examining how computational approaches can expedite and facilitate the identification, analysis, and cross-referencing of vast amounts of historical, anthropological, and archaeological information available in sixteenth-century sources. Murrieta-Flores et al. consider the the experiences of the Digging into Early Colonial Mexico project, which focuses on the analysis of the Relaciones geográficas, a set of responses to a sixteenth-century questionnaire completed for the Spanish Crown by local colonial administrators. Their work demonstrates the potential of these methods to address questions relating to the economy, culture, natural history, and religious practices of New Spain.
Emma Slayton draws on archaeological data about Indigenous Caribbean settlements to model hypothetical canoe routes between Trinidad and the mainland coast of South America, exploring how possible avenues of travel were changed or interrupted during the early colonial period. Her work shows how data-driven analysis can complement the written record to better describe the impact of colonization on Indigenous communities.
By extending beyond the practice of close reading to explore cultural analytics and extratextual evidence, these projects allow us to find new ways of knowing that extend beyond the narrow perspective inscribed in the colonial text. This can allow us to locate new information left out of the historical record, as Slayton writes. It can also, in the words of Murrieta et al., “facilitate the discovery and analysis of geographies not immediately apprehended with normal reading.”

3. Labor and Pedagogy

Questions surrounding labor and pedagogy — separate categories which are nonetheless closely intertwined — are central to DCLAS. Like the Ticha and Nahuatl/Nawatl projects described by Broadwell et al. and Matthews and Bannister in this issue, much current work in DCLAS involves envisioning new models for accomplishing scholarly work. This often entails imagining ways to achieve more equitable relationships across national boundaries, among scholarly institutions, and with groups that have been historically marginalized within academic settings, including Black and Indigenous scholars, language activists, and knowledge and heritage communities. Examples of such projects would be the digitization of the Fondo Real de Cholula, a collaboration between scholars and librarians at the University of Texas and the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, the digital edition of the Codex Mendoza developed by the Instituto Nacional de Arqueología e Historia (Mexico), Mesolore, and Musical Passages.
Current work in digital colonial Latin American Studies pushes us to think critically about what it means to teach about the colonial world in the digital age. Projects like Ticha and coloniaLab involve students as participants or primary collaborators, and include reflection on that student involvement as a central component of their work [Flores-Marcial 2020] [Lillehaugen 2020] [McCarl et al. 2020] [Palacios 2020]. Other projects deploy technology to provide new learning opportunities for those who do not have access to attend in-person classes related to the colonial world. Two examples are Chqeta’maj le qach’ab’al k’iche’, a language-learning resource for K’iche’ Maya, and Programming Historian en Español, which offers free training resources in digital humanities for researchers working in multiple languages. As we write this introduction from our home-offices (or our kitchen tables) while under stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of these resources and the critical apparatus that informs them are at the forefront of our minds.
In this special issue, Lauren G. Kilroy-Ewbank explores the merits and drawbacks of using digital visual materials, both scholarly and pedagogically, for understanding and analyzing colonial Latin American art. She demonstrates how instructors can use digital methods in teaching to reveal how “the digital frames or reframes our understanding of visual culture and to effectively critique it.” In one example, Kilroy-Ewbank discusses how an active role in the creation of metadata — a process often overlooked or regarded as acritical — can alter students’ understanding of the objects we study and the biases inherent in scholarly work.

4. Theory & Praxis

One commonality across projects in DCLAS, as is often the case in DH more generally, is an attention to the bringing together of theory and practice. Slavery in the Machine, the third issue of the Archipelagos journal of digital Caribbean studies, is a model for the breadth of theoretical possibility in colonial DH [Johnson 2019]. The work represented in that issue, much of which draws on the history of colonization and enslavement, envisions and implements a digital humanities based in a theoretical space of movement and change, a Caribbean that “won’t stand still” or an isla que se repite [Glover and Gil 2019]. In this framework, experimentation exists alongside critique, silence alongside voicing, and mourning alongside rebirth.
Similarly, in their survey of digital research on visual culture in Spanish America, Barbara Mundy and Dana Leibsohn describe a field of scholarship that reconfigures ways of knowing, seeing, and working together, even as it works with and through digital tools [Mundy and Leibsohn 2017]. As Maria José Afanador Llach writes, in the digital humanities “nos enfrentamos a procesos de producción de conocimiento mediados por el pensamiento computacional, el software y las interfaces digitales” [8] [Afanador Llach 2019]. Even as colonial digital humanists build tools and platforms, digitize documents, enter metadata, and design websites, they work to understand the alignment between the tools we use, the things we see, and the knowledge that we make possible. This can involve not just thinking critically about digital tools and their interaction with social and cultural factors of colonial and post-colonial communities, but also investing in the construction of new technologies that better reflect scholarly values [Alpert-Abrams 2016] [Alpert-Abrams 2017].
The questions of theory and praxis that emerge from the articles in this special issue open new ways of theorizing DCLAS. These largely collaborative projects aim to produce “transformative work” by way of an iterative process conducted “through an ongoing conversation with user communities” [Matthew and Bannister 2020]. As Matthew and Bannister write in this issue, this introduces a “paradigmatic change” in how scholars work together, with far-reaching consequences for knowledge production in and beyond the academy. They open the possibility, in the words of Broadwell et al., for a form of digital humanities that “democratize[s] access to materials and resources.” As Matthew and Bannister add, however, these projects also introduce new problems as we think through their relationship with colonial and neoliberal politics, the technology industry, and institutions of higher education in the United States and Latin America.

Looking forward

This collection points to various possibilities for CLAS. The articles gathered here illustrate ways that digital scholarship can provide new pathways to conducting scholarship in a collaborative fashion. They suggest innovative means for representing the heterogeneous and incomplete nature of the colonial archive. They demonstrate how the curation of colonial data sets can enable new ways of understanding Latin American history. Likewise, they show how digital pedagogy, or critical approaches to the selective use of digital tools and resources in teaching and learning, offers new ways for students to engage with colonial material and textual history.
This is not to say that DCLAS does not continue to face challenges, many of them made explicit by this special issue, both through its content and the circumstance surrounding its publication. Foremost among these challenges are issues related to peer review, the precarious professional circumstances of many within DCLAS, as well as the need we face, as a field, to think critically about how we engage digitally with colonial-era materials.
Like many scholarly projects, this special issue faced significant challenges during the process of peer review. We originally intended to publish these pieces in a more traditional humanities journal, but after careful consideration, the editors determined that review and revision of these project- and pedagogy-oriented initiatives was too far out of scope of that publication. This problem was exacerbated by the professional diversity of those involved, who include not only research/teaching faculty, but also faculty members, librarians, programmers, students, and language activists — voices not often included in many conventional humanities forums. A DH journal turned out to be a more appropriate home, but identifying reviewers who could speak to these articles as work sitting at the intersection of DH and CLAS proved to be another challenge.
All of these circumstances reflect the broader difficulty that digital humanists have in demonstrating the value of their work, with real consequences for hiring, tenure, and promotion, as well as for the sustainability of projects themselves. Such dynamics play out in CLAS in ways that are common across the humanities, with many of the scholars who are engaged in digital work within CLAS not emerging from, or entirely identifying with, the disciplinary routes that traditionally have fed into the field. As a consequence, such scholars do not have a clear path into a professional existence within the very area of inquiry that they are best positioned to help transform. Higher education in the United States and many other parts of the world continues to rely for administrative purposes on the notions of disciplines, and many scholars themselves, particularly in the face of financial cuts to vulnerable areas, defend such disciplinary lines. In an extremely tight job market, those who might identify first-and-foremost as practitioners of DCLAS face a difficult challenge in selling their broadly focused skills to disciplinary departments who are often searching for candidates with more traditional profiles who can teach more conventional coursework. The lines that have long separated librarianship from the labor of research/teaching faculty exacerbate the problem, as practitioners of DCLAS might naturally fit into a professional sphere that could span both areas, but at the present, that space is extremely limited.
On a conceptual level, practitioners of DCLAS face a need to imagine the common questions that should be asked about how we interact digitally with colonial-era objects. This is a topic that arose during a panel at DH2018 in Mexico City, and was one of the objectives of the first meeting of the Association for Digital Research in Early Latin America (ADRELA), held at the annual congress of the Latin American Studies Association in Boston the following year.[9] As was discussed at both events, a shared protocol might be not only of a logistical nature, but also have ethical implications, helping us to consider the assumptions behind our tools and their conceptual models that might distort our work in ways we do not realize. Such questions might also address the ways that our own assumptions — as specific people working in specific contexts — do the same.


In gathering together the articles in this collection, we seek to advance the emerging conversation about the role of digital scholarship within CLAS and contribute to the formation of a more coherent digital humanities community in the field. We also seek to understand how articles like those collected here help CLAS connect with larger conversations about scholarship in the twenty-first century, and consider how digital methods can expand the ways we study, understand, and interact with the colonial period in Latin America. Perhaps most importantly, we hope to emphasize DH as a point of entry for a new generation of scholars in our field, which — like DH itself — is inherently interdisciplinary, and built upon an enthusiasm for innovation and collaboration.
Much of the work in this special issue has been touched by local and global crises, including climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. immigration policy, and the defunding of humanities programs at academic institutions in the United States. During the three years that this collection was developed, contributors were directly and indirectly impacted by multiple health crises, wildfires, travel bans, and campus closures, while one editor of this volume no longer works in academia. These events draw attention to the precarious conditions of our histories, our communities, and our industries, even as they make the values of openness, access, collaboration, and virtual connection that underlie these projects more essential than ever. Likewise, in the current moment of instability, crisis, and misinformation, the value of using digital technologies to preserve and provide access to culture has never been greater, particularly when those tools can empower us to recover stories that have been lost or erased.

Digital Projects Referenced in this Introduction

Catálogo Colectivo de Marcas de Fuego. Mercedes Salomón and Adrian Mendoza Leal. http://www.marcasdefuego.buap.mx
Chqeta’maj le qach’ab’al k’iche’. Sergio Romero, Ignacio Carvajal, Mareike Sattler, Juan Manuel Tahay Tzaj, Carl Blyth, Sarah Sweeney, Pat Kyle, Nathalie Steinfeld Childre. https://tzij.coerll.utexas.edu
Codex Mendoza. Frances Berdan, Baltazar Brito, Peter Stokes, Ernesto Miranda Trigueros, Noemí Cadena Corona, Verónica Lerma Hernández, and Gerardo Gutiérrez. https://codicemendoza.inah.gob.mx/index.php
Colección Digital Fondo Real de Cholula. LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections. https://ladi.lib.utexas.edu.
Colección Escritos de Mujeres Novohispanas. Clara Ramírez and Claudia Llanos. https://publicacionesdigitalesunamiisue.wordpress.com/escritos-mujeres
coloniaLab. Clayton McCarl and collaborators. https://colonialab.org
A Colony in Crisis. Abbey R. Broughton, Kelsey Corlett-Rivera, Nathan H. Dize, Brittany de Gail, Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo, Pierre Malbranche, Daphney Vastey. https://colonyincrisis.lib.umd.edu
Digging into Early Colonial Mexico. Patricia Murrieta-Flores, Ian Gregory, Bruno Martins, Diego Jiménez Baldillo and teams. https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/digging-ecm
Fundación Histórica Neogranadina. Juan Fernando Cobo Betancourt, Santiago Muñoz Arbeláez, Natalie Cobo, Adraína Soto Segura. https://neogranadina.org
Mapping Nature in New Granada. María José Afanador Llach. Forthcoming.
Mesolore. Liza Bakewell and Byron Hamann. http://www.mesolore.org
Musical Passage: A Voyage to 1688 Jamaica. Laurent Dubois, David K. Garner, Mary Caton Lingold. http://www.musicalpassage.org
Nahuatl/Nawat. Laura E. Matthew, Michael Bannister, and Héctor Concohá Chet. https://nahuatl-nawat.org
Primeros Libros de las Américas. LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, Cushing Memorial Library, Biblioteca Histórica José María Lafragua, Biblioteca Franciscana, Biblioteca Palafoxiana. http://primeroslibros.org
Programming Historian en Español. María José Afanador-Llach, Victor Gayol, Silvia Gutierrez de la Torre, Jennifer Isasi, José Antonio Motilla, Joshua G. Ortiz Baco, Riva Quiroga, Antonio Rojas Castro. https://programminghistorian.org/es
Slave Voyages. Emory Center for Digital Scholarship and collaborators. https://www.slavevoyages.org
Ticha. Brook Danielle Lillehaugen, George Aaron Broadwell, Michel R. Oudijk, Laurie Allen, Mike Zarafonetis, Xóchitl Flores-Marcial, Moises García Guzmán, Felipe López and team. https://ticha.haverford.edu
Power of Attorney. Yanna Yannakakis and team. https://www.powerofattorneynative.com


[1] Though the abbreviation CLAS is not widely used, we employ it for the sake of brevity, in parallel with the more common use of DH. Below we introduce another abbreviation, DCLAS, to designate the intersection of these two fields.
[2] For a discussion of general problems in working with digital sources, see Putnam 2016 and Daut 2019.
[3] For some recent volumes that survey the current state of DH, see Crompton et al. 2016, Balkun and Deyrup 2020, and Crompton et al. 2020.
[4] Scholarship aimed at defining CLAS as a field is perhaps not abundant, but certainly over the last two decades, scholars have raised questions about the need to revisit or expand the critical lenses that practitioners of CLAS employ. See, for instance, Bolãnos and Verdesio 2002, Adorno 2009, Díaz 2014.
[5] “The effort to create a history of the homeland in the great process of constructing the nation.” Translation ours.
[6] For the history of the project and this reformulation, see Emory Center 2020a, 2020b.
[7] There are too many projects of this kind to list comprehensively here; for a more complete list of digital projects and collections relating to colonial Latin American Studies, we refer you to the crowdsourced bibliography of Latin American DH: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JE5s77JETxUC6Qx_ZOd7aiRxfr2WBPNDweTemJGcYT8/edit#.
[8] “We are faced with processes of knowledge construction mediated by computational thinking, software, and digital interfaces.” Translation ours.
[9] Those conversations — which brought together scholars from across the United States, Europe, and Latin America — inform all of the work in this introduction. For more information about both, see the “Events” page of the ADRELA website (https://adrela.net/events).

Works Cited

Adorno 2006 Adorno, Rolena. “About the transcription and its critical apparatus” The Guaman Poma Website. Det Kongelige Bibliotek. 2006. http://www5.kb.dk/permalink/2006/poma/info/en/foreword.htm.
Adorno 2009 Adorno, Rolena. “1989–2009: Revising Colonial Latin American Studies’ ‘New Paradigm’”. Modern Language Association Conference, 27-30 December 2009, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Afanador Llach 2019 Afanador Llach, María José. “Tecnología al servicio de las Humanidades.” Telos. 11 Dec. 2019. https://telos.fundaciontelefonica.com/telos-112-cuaderno-central-humanidades-en-un-mundo-stem-maria-jose-afanadortecnologia-al-servicio-de-las-humanidades/.
Alpert-Abrams 2016 Alpert-Abrams, Hannah. “Machine Reading the Primeros Libros.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 10.4 (2016). http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/10/4/000268/000268.html.
Alpert-Abrams 2017 Alpert-Abrams, Hannah. Unreadable Books: Colonial Mexican Documents in Circulation. 2017. University of Texas, PhD Dissertation.
Alpert-Abrams 2018 Alpert-Abrams, Hannah. “Colonial Copying in an Imperial Age.” Catalyst 4.2 (2018). https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A561685883/AONE?u=21246_dol&sid=AONE&xid=2c6e866b.
Balkun and Deyrup 2020 Balkun, Mary McAleer, and Marta Mestrovic Deyrup. Transformative Digital Humanities: Challenges and Opportunities. Routledge, 2020. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9780429399923.
Bolãnos and Verdesio 2002 Bolãnos. Alvaro F́elix, and Gustavo Verdesio, eds. “Colonialism Past and Present : Reading and Writing About Colonial Latin America Today.” Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2002.
Bueno 2018 Bueno, Christina. “La Biblioteca Nacional de Antropología e Historia de México: un legado del nacionalismo porfiriano.” In Carlos Aguirre and Ricardo D. Salvatore, Bibliotecas y cultura letrada en América Latina: siglos XIX y XX. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica, Fondo Editorial, 2018. 205-225.
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