Caribbean Literary Heritage (2022 update)

The website of our sister Caribbean Literary Heritage project is now nearing completion. It includes a cartographic location register of Caribbean literary archives, and innovative new work, notably on recovering forgotten writers and creating a fuller literary history of the Anglophone Caribbean.

The website states that: “Our project is concerned with the Caribbean literary past and is particularly interested in neglected writers and writings at risk of being lost. We want to understand how fuller literary histories can be told and how their sources can be identified, preserved and made accessible. We hope that engaging with living writers across generations to raise awareness around the value of their manuscripts, correspondence and other papers, will help to safeguard future literary histories in the making.”

Visit the Caribbean Literary Heritage website here.

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“You hear my voice as a witness”: A Conversation and Reading with Afghan Writers Dr. Kawa Jobran and Ramin Mazhar

Join the ICA Section on Archives of Literature and Art for its second talk in a new series of speaking events prepared for the last quarter of the year. This project is supported by the International Council on Archives (ICA) through the Programme Commission.   

Event Description: 

Through the power of words writers play a unique role in advocating for human rights. Whether speaking truth to power, giving voice to the voiceless, or speaking out when others are silent, journalists, poets, novelists, and other authors bring important perspectives to society. Yet this work is not without risk, and during times of war and political upheaval, writers may be forced to flee their home country. In this conversation and reading, two Afghan writers, Dr. Kawa Jobran and Ramin Mazhar, will provide insight into how their writing responds to life in Afghanistan, the experience of artists at risk, and reflect on their archival legacies. Dr. Jamila Ghaddar will respond, considering the connections between archives and broader social and political contexts.   


  • Dr. Kawa Jobran 
  • Ramin Mazhar 


  • Dr. Jamila Ghaddar 

Date: Thursday, 1 December 

Time: 9:00am PST. To confirm the date/time of this session in your time zone please use the following link

Register here

This virtual session will be delivered in English. Interpretation into other languages will not be provided.    

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From Paper and Paint to Pixels: Preserving and Providing Access to Born Digital Literature

As part of a new series of speaking events, the Section on Archives of Literature and Art (International Council on Archives) is presenting a panel discussion on preserving and providing access to born digital literature and art. The panel features scholars whose work engages with these issues in the areas of born digital literary archives and interactive media. Topics covered will include innovative preservation methods used for born digital literary archives and electronic literature. Speakers will also address methodologies for accessing and incorporating these unique cultural heritage objects into research. Approaches include using artificial intelligence and machine learning to make born-digital cultural records more accessible to the research community and creating virtual spaces for born-digital literature.

Note: this will be an online panel discussion hosted by the International Council on Archives platform – access details forthcoming.


Dr Dene Grigar (Professor and Director of The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program, Washington State University Vancouver, U.S.A.)

Dr Lise Jaillant (Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities, Loughborough University, United Kingdom)

Date: Thursday, 3 November 2022

Time: Time: 10:00 am PST (Pacific Standard Time) – use this link to confirm the date/time of this session in your time zone.

Register here:

This virtual session will be delivered in English. Interpretation into other languages will not be provided.

This project is supported by the International Council on Archives (ICA) through the Programme Commission. 

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Disputed Archival Heritage

SLA members will be interested to learn of the publication (October 2022) of a new book entitled Disputed Archival Heritage, edited by James Lowry.

The book is available on open access here.

Among the essays included the one entitled ‘Diasporic, Displaced, Alienated or Shared: Caribbean Literary Archives‘ by John A. Aarons and Helena Leonce may be of special interest. It is closely connected with many of the interests and activities of SLA members, including the SLA session at ICA Mexico City.

The new book will be widely welcomed, and its availability on open access should ensure a wide readership.

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Upcoming ICA-SLA business meeting and tour of Keats-Shelley House

ICA-SLA will be hosting a tour and business meeting at the upcoming ICA Roma conference.  We warmly welcome those SLA Members to join us who will be at the conference in Rome.  For those who are unable to attend, please stay tuned, as the Steering Committee is currently planning a few virtual events for this Fall. 

What:   Tour of the Keats-Shelley House with the Section on Archives of Literature and Art (SLA). All ICA members welcome.

When: Monday, 19 September 2022, 5:00 pm / 17:00.

Where: Keats-Shelley House, Piazza di Spagna, 26, Rome

Cost:      €6.00

RSVP:    Please RSVP to Heather Dean ( as space is limited. 

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What do we mean by Literary Archives?

As we look forward to the ICA Rome conference, to meetings of our Section, and to meetings with colleagues who may be considering joining our Section, it may be useful to try to define what we mean by Literary Archives.

This is the definition used by the British group known as GLAM (Group for Literary Archives and Manuscripts):

GLAM defines ‘literary’ as creative writing in all genres, whether or not intended for publication, including:

  • Poetry
  • The novel
  • Other forms of fiction (including short stories and novellas)
  • Other prose writing, such as essays and letters by or relating to ‘literary’ figures
  • Writing for drama, in the theatre, or for radio, television and film
  • Life writing, including literary biography, autobiography and self-representation
  • The writing of criticism (both theoretical and practical) relating to creative writing, including editing, reviewing and the histories of literature
  • The process of publishing or otherwise supporting the production and dissemination of literature

The definition is intended to hold good regardless of format. It includes book proofs, therefore, and both born-digital and digitised formats.

Do we have a similar definition for Artistic Archives?

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First International Meeting of Art Archives

A new initiative on art archives in Latin America is underway at the Pontificia Universidad Católica of Chile. Organised by Alejandra Wolff, a painter and Director of the Archivo y Patrimonio de la Facultad de Artes at the Pontificia Universidad Católica, the initiative held the First International Meeting of Art Archives on 28 April 2022. The program included representation from the Section on Literary and Artistic Archives, as well as speakers from Argentina, Perú, México, Colombia and Chile. The organisers’ goals include creating a network of art archives in Latin America and the development of policies and practices supporting regional work on art archives.

For more about this project, please see the news item on the Facultad de Artes website: ‘Faculty of Arts UC presents the 1st International Meeting of Arts Archives’.

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Archives, Access and Artificial Intelligence

A new edited collection entitled Archives, Access and Artificial Intelligence has recently been published on open access.

The open access book can be found here.

Publishers’ information: Digital archives are transforming the Humanities and the Sciences. Digitized collections of newspapers and books have pushed scholars to develop new, data-rich methods. Born-digital archives are now better preserved and managed thanks to the development of open-access and commercial software. Digital Humanities have moved from the fringe to the center of academia. Yet, the path from the appraisal of records to their analysis is far from smooth. This book explores crossovers between various disciplines to improve the discoverability, accessibility, and use of born-digital archives and other cultural assets.

Authors include: Lise Jaillant (who is also the Editor of the volume), Jane Winters, Mark Bell, Tom Storrar, Melissa Terras, Martin Paul Eve and Paul Gooding, with an Afterword by Richard Marciano.

This will be a valuable addition to published information about archives and digital humanities, linked to a number of earlier posts on this SLA blog.

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A Literary Collection in Cuba

One of the first things you see as you pass into the hallway of the Fundación Alejo Carpentier, in the elegant Havana suburb of Vedado, is a photograph of Carpentier with his arms around his two great protégés, Carlos Fuentes to his left and Gabriel García Márquez to his right. The photograph underlines that Alejo Carpentier is not only one of great figures of twentieth-century Latin American literature, but arguably its father figure.

As mentioned by Catherine Hobbs in an earlier post on this blog, from the ICA Conference in Mexico City, the collections of literary archives in the Fundación Alejo Carpentier – as well as comprising over twenty linear metres of outstanding literary heritage – present a remarkable story of collection unification.

The Fundación holds Carpentier’s personal libraries, photographs and personal effects; his literary archive, presenting an impressively complete record of his literary work (including manuscript materials for all his novels); biographical and family papers; papers relating to his journalism and musicology; and a wide ranging correspondence collection, including letters from authors such as Carlos Fuentes, Julio Cortázar, Miguel Ángel Asturias and Raymond Queneau, among many others.

The archival collection now includes (1) all those archival materials previously held by the Biblioteca Nacional José Martí – including Carpentier’s own donations; (2) all the papers found in the house of Carpentier and his widow Lilia (Andrea Hortencia Esteban Hierro) – now the principal property of the Fundación; (3) the smaller collection previously housed in the Fundación’s first property, in La Habana Vieja; and (4) the suitcase full of Carpentier papers, from the attic of a rural French house, where it was hidden by Carpentier’s mother on the advance of the Nazis in 1940, and transferred to Cuba in 1989.

This unified collection is one of the world’s great literary archives, and the transfer of archives away from the national library to the non-profit literary foundation is internationally exceptional. The website of the Fundación Alejo Carpentier can be accessed here.

Posted in International perspectives, Literary / Artistic | 2 Comments

A Literary Collection in Colombia

The personal library and archive of the Colombian writer Alfonso Fuenmayor is now housed in the Library of the Universidad del Norte (Uninorte), in Barranquilla, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, and comprises some 3795 books, 704 journals (many of them rare), together with mimeographs and manuscripts by Fuenmayor and other Colombian authors. The collection is especially relevant to the study of the “Grupo de Barranquilla”, which recognised Fuenmayor as its “Maestro”, and also included Ramón Vinyes, Álvaro Cepeda Samudio, Germán Vargas Cantillo, Alejandro Obregón, Julio Mario Santodomingo, Orlando Rivera (“Figurita”), and Gabriel García Márquez.

García Márquez has written (beautifully) about the Barranquilla group and especially Fuenmayor in his autobiographical work Vivir para contarla. The Fuenmayor Collection was gifted to Uninorte by his family, and will be an essential source for the study of Colombian literature.

A fuller description of the collection and its significance, in Spanish, can be accessed here.

See also Alfonso Fuenmayor: Crónicas sobre el Grupo de Barranquilla. Bogotá: Instituto Colombiano de Cultura-Gobernación del Atlántico, 1981.

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