Cultivating an International Partnership to Connect Diverse Communities

This panel will discuss the multifaceted collaboration between El Salvador’s Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (Museum of the Word and the Image) and the University of Texas at Austin since the formalization of the partnership in 2014, thanks to the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Founded in 1999, the Museum (commonly referred to by its acronym MUPI) collects, preserves, and educates on El Salvador’s historical and cultural heritage. After the Civil War (1980-1992) and with the signing of the Chapultepec Peace Accords in 1992, journalist Carlos Henríquez Consalvi, directed a team initiative to rescue diverse archives and audio files on social movements; this conservation effort has been extended to include diverse themes regarding Salvadoran culture, identity, and history.

Carlos Henríquez Consalvi, founder and Director of MUPI, will provide an overview of the institution’s mission, collections, and work with local and international communities. Most recently, in an effort to connect with and educate El Salvadoran-descendant youth in the United States, the Museum has created a collection and designed an accompanying traveling exhibition titled Bordadoras de Memorias (Embroiderers of Memories) of embroidery works created by peasant women as testimonials of the armed conflict during the 1970s, newly digitized and soon-to-be-made available through UT-Austin’s Latin American Digital Initiatives (https://ladi.lib.utexas.edu/) portal.

David Bliss, the Head of Digital Initiatives at the Benson Latin American Collection (UT-Austin), will talk about the ongoing digitization work that has led to the development of three collections produced primarily by clandestine groups and solidarity organizations, as well as the military, during the Salvadoran Civil War: an armed conflict propaganda collection, MUPI’s periodical library, and the Radio Venceremos rebel broadcasts recordings. Polk will reflect on the post-custodial praxis and the barriers bureaucracy and politics have posed in this and concurrent initiatives.

Joshua Ortiz Baco, LLILAS Benson Digital Scholarship graduate research assistant and doctoral student in the Spanish & Portuguese Department (UT-Austin), will discuss digital scholarship efforts that have built on digitized MUPI collections. These include the design of a distant viewing workshop using political posters; the transformation of Bordadoras de Memorias into a digital exhibition; and curated teaching resources for high school World History courses co-designed with the College of Education and Department of History graduate students at UT-Austin. Ortiz Baco will reflect on the ethical and practical challenges that have emerged alongside these opportunities.