Outstanding Academic Titles 2020: Latin American Studies

This week's sneak peek from our 2020 Outstanding Academic Titles list: academic book reviews connected to Latin American Studies.

This week’s sneak peek from our 2020 Outstanding Academic Titles list: award-winning Latin American Studies titles for College Libraries.

1. Phenomenal justice: violence and morality in Argentina
Van Roekel, Eva. Rutgers, 2020

Phenomenal justice: violence and morality in Argentina

Van Roekel (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands) grounds this volume in a full body of interdisciplinary research, showcasing her rich ethnographic fieldwork. The analytical framework employed—phenomenological anthropology—is timely in its application, reminding the reader that not everyone can escape the immediacy of their experiences, which can be felt even decades later. As a participant observer, van Roekel intentionally immerses herself in her own conflicted feelings about violence and justice within the context of the close relationships that developed with her research participants, who recount experiences of forced disappearances, torture, and survival under Argentina’s brutal military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983. Transcending a simple right-versus-wrong dichotomy, the author writes an engaging narrative that invites the reader to embrace the complex subtleties of violence and morality, and of truth and reconciliation, in post-conflict Argentina, and by extension in the world at large.
View on Amazon

2. Unwanted witnesses: journalists & conflict in contemporary Latin America
Polit Dueñas, Gabriela. Pittsburgh, 2019

Recommended Latin American Studies titles for Libraries -Book cover

It is well known, in the US as well as in Latin America, that many Latin American journalists have been arrested, killed, or disappeared by (sometimes without objection from) their governments. Polit Dueñas (Spanish and Portuguese, Univ. of Texas, Austin) heralds the work and the courage of one group of Latin American journalists, the cronistas (i.e., chroniclers), whose writing combines traditional investigative reporting with narrative techniques of fiction to create a distinct genre, the crónica. The author focuses on five female cronistas from three countries—Mexico, Columbia, and Argentina—whom the author interviewed at length. These cronistas have given voice to victims of corrupt governments and dangerous drug cartels, while placing themselves in danger, both from violence rendered by the oppressors they write about and from the psychological toll of exposing themselves to the trauma and pain that they depict. Polit Dueñas devotes two of the book’s seven chapters to Colombian journalist Patricia Nieto, who has trained graduate students to help victims write their own stories with an eye toward publishing these accounts as tools of justice. View on Amazon

3. Brazil’s revolution in commerce: creating consumer capitalism in the American century
Woodard, James P. North Carolina, 2020

 Latin American Studies Book

Woodard (Montclair State Univ.) undertakes a monumental task in tracing the development of consumer capitalism in Brazil through the 20th century. His accomplishment is no small feat, and the book’s meticulous research and attention to detail truly stand out as he maps out the rise of an American-style consumerism filtered through Brazilian culture and society. This work covers every niche of everyday life, from the rise of advertising to transformations in media, from changes in shopping experiences to how household appliances changed family life, across varying political regimes and economic peaks and valleys. Woodard illustrates the multifaceted ways commerce, capital, private enterprise, and government efforts in the US and Brazil intertwined to create Brazilian consumerism, offering a history of recognizable everyday institutions. Such transformations profoundly altered the very fabric of daily life in Brazil, resulting in an “Americanization” that became increasingly Brazilian, as the author demonstrates American influence without abandoning Brazilian agency and adaptations.
View on Amazon

4.Correction of differential settlements in Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral and Sagrario Church , Built heritage and geotechnics, 2
Ovando Shelley, Efraín. by Efraín Ovando-Shelley and Enrique Santoyo CRC Press, 2020

 Latin American Studies recommended

“Mitigating [the] harmful effects of differential settlements” of subsoil is the focus of this work by Ovando-Shelley (National Autonomous Univ. of Mexico) and Santoyo (also UNAM, now deceased). This compelling book not only attests to the importance of built environments but also describes in detail the preventive and corrective actions—in this case, to subsoil—needed to enable their continued existence. The adjoining cathedral and church edifices have a long history of residing on unstable soil. In just 85 pages, 13 chapters and 4 appendixes, the authors concisely relay in retrospect the centuries of site construction and repair—beginning with Aztec temples built on an islet in the middle of a lake in 1325. They discuss the soil remediation techniques that have been necessary over time and elaborate on current methods of underexcavation, such as subsoil hardening through mortar grouting and pore-water recharge. The geotechnical diagnosis and geometrical corrections are explained in meticulous detail, and the information has significance for worldwide preservation efforts. Beautiful color and black-and-white illustrations, including photos, diagrams, and plans, enhance the remediation and restoration discussions. This powerful presentation demonstrates not only the importance of historic buildings to community but also the value of retaining them and doing so with modern technology.
View on Amazon

5Negotiating space in Latin America
ed. by Patricia Vilches Brill, 2019

Latin American Studies -Book cover

An interdisciplinary survey of the ways in which space is conceptualized, created, negotiated, and challenged throughout Latin America, this volume treats the subject broadly, focusing on cultural studies, film studies, environmental studies, gender, geography, politics, history, sociology, and current events. Authors employ several different theoretical frameworks, concentrating on different time periods throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and focusing on different locations within Latin America. Each essay is thoroughly grounded in current literature on the topic and within its respective discipline. Taken as a whole, this collection comprehensively dissects the concept of space from the perspectives of the political body, the marketplace, the urban, and the rural.
View on Amazon

Sign up to receive our weekly 2020 Outstanding Academic Titles snippet list in your inbox.

Read more about Choice Outstanding Academic Titles.