It is with special pride and pleasure that I write this Editor's Note. In more than one sense, this is a landmark publication: it is our 50th volume as well as the first Handbook to be fully automated and entered into our own database at the Library of Congress. That a series launched in the 1930s should have lasted into the 1990s attests to the foresight and insight of the Handbook's creator and first editor, Lewis Hanke, that visionary pioneer of Latin American studies to whom this volume is dedicated.

Writing the Editor's Note to the first Handbook, Hanke already anticipated the singularity of Latin American studies, the uniqueness of our field, a recalcitrant terrain more resistant than most to the narrow approach, or as he aptly put it in 1936: "The field of Latin American culture is a particularly fertile region for that integrated investigation which ignores conventional academic divisions and considers the problem as a whole." From its inception, the Handbook was designed "to forward such broadly conceived study and to emphasize the unity of the field," not merely by making "it easier for the specialists to keep abreast of current literature in their own corners of the field" but especially "to give them the opportunity to peer over the fences which set them off from their fellows and to observe each other's movements." In a 1988 interview, Hanke observed that the "47 volumes of the Handbook of Latin American Studies, largely developed by historians, have been a spectacular demonstration of the interdisciplinary approach and how impossible it is to study Latin America without taking into account sources and interpretations written in many languages." This internationalization of history was the subject of the 1988 Presidential Address to the American Historical Association by the Japanese historian Akira Iriye, who praised Hanke specifically for his pioneering role and for his dedicated and enterprising initiatives in establishing closer ties with foreign historical communities, initiatives that "have left a valuable legacy to build on for the further internationalization of the profession."1

Hanke was also among the first to emphasize that Latin American studies did not and should not mean Spanish American studies "with Brazil ignored or neglected,"2 because "a true Latin Americanist must have some real acquaintance with Brazil."3 In fact, one of the earliest volumes, HLAS 3, published in 1937, was dedicated to the Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro on its 100th birthday and already included separate chapters on Brazilian art, economics, education, geography, history and literature. The Handbook's special interest in Brazil continues to this day and is exemplified by the depth and breadth of the coverage of the country's literature in HLAS 50: seven chapters by as many scholars covering the Brazilian novel, short story, crônica, drama, poetry, criticism, and translations from Portuguese into English.

The Handbook was the outgrowth of a conference of scholars interested in Latin American studies held in 1935 in the offices of the Social Science Research Council in New York City. In attendance and representing the fields of anthropology, economics, geography, government, history, and literature, were 15 scholars from nine universities (Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Ohio, Clark, and the Catholic University of America) as well as from the Library of Congress and the American Geographical Society. The historians were Clarence H. Haring, Lewis Hanke, and A.S. Aiton; the anthropologists John M. Cooper, Carl E. Guthe, and Clark Wissler; the economists Max S. Handman and Chester L. Jones; the geographers Preston E. James, Clarence F. Jones, Robert S. Platt, and Raye R. Platt; the political scientist was Herman G. James; the literary critic Sturgis E. Leavitt; and the librarian C.K. Jones.

These men were also pioneers in their fields, and by persuading several to contribute to the Handbook, Hanke established from the beginning a policy of recruiting scholars who would work without remuneration while upholding very high standards. In the 1930s, there was a handful of academics who labored in the study of Latin America, a lonely and unrecognized pursuit in the US at the time. In time, these scholars became not only the first contributors to the Handbook but the founding fathers of many fields of study in this country. Their work is exemplified by Samuel Putman's splendid essays on Brazilian literature; Irving Leonard's pioneering work on the Spanish American colonial period; George Kubler's essays on Latin American art; Gilbert Chase's chapters on the region's music; and in the social sciences, Robert Redfield's, Alfred Métraux's, and T. Dale Stewart's contributions on anthropology. When these scholars retired, they usually passed on the responsibility to a best student or respected colleague. In this way, a relay race of excellence was established that makes the roster of past and present contributors to the Handbook a veritable Who's Who of scholars in every field we cover.

The first two Handbook volumes were produced with the financial support of the American Council of Learned Societies, the next seven volumes were underwritten by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, and volume 10 was made possible by a transfer of funds to the Library of Congress from the State Department's Committee on Scientific and Cultural Relations. In 1944, the Library assumed full responsibility, and volume 11 (1948) was the first one entirely financed by the Library of Congress.4

An odd coincidence in the history of our field in the US is that Latin American studies, and as a consequence the Handbook, prospered in wartime. For example, the most important historical journal in the field, the Hispanic American Historical Review or HAHR, was created during World War I, with the first issue appearing in 1918.5 Of World War II, Hanke writes that "the years 1939-1945 witnessed an extraordinary mingling of scholars of the Americas in all fields. The war confined most of their activities to the American continent and the result was beneficial for the growth of Latin American studies in the United States." For the first time there were several notable Latin American professors and intellectuals teaching and working at American institutions and universities, such as Erico Verissimo at California, Gilberto Freyre at Indiana, Germán Arciniegas at Chicago, Pablo Max Ynsfrán at Texas, Pedro Henríquez Ureña at Harvard, and Luis Alberto Sánchez at the Library of Congress. Moreover, the US Army's Specialized Training Program gave enlisted Americans the opportunity to study foreign languages "under circumstances in which the students were actually expected and enabled to speak Spanish or Portuguese fluently."6

Not only did the Handbook prosper during the war years, but additional publications and relevant programs launched in the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s would have a long-term impact on the development and direction of Latin American studies in the US: the Revista de Historia de América, created in 1938 by the Pan American Institute of Geography and History under the editorship of Silvio A. Zavala; the Revista Iberoamericana, sponsored in 1939 by the Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana; the prescient journal Afroamérica, created in 1940 by the International Institute of Afro-American Studies; and the historical quarterly The Americas, established in 1944 by the Academy of American Franciscan History. Analogous developments as important as these journals were the establishment of the Institute of Social Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution and its preparation of the splendid multi-volume Handbook of South American Indians, with many chapters authored by HLAS contributing editors (e.g., Alfred Métraux, John Murra, Betty J. Meggers); the development of Latin American collections at many US libraries and museums; the first Inter-American Conference on Philosophy held at Yale University in 1943; the first conference on Latin American art, sponsored by the Council of Learned Societies in New York in 1945; and in that same year, the establishment of an office devoted to the promotion of Latin American music in Washington D.C.: the Pan-American Union's Music Division.7

The next notable expansion of Latin American studies in the US would take place in the 1960s, the decade of the Cuban Revolution and the Vietnam War. This expansion was most visible in the social sciences, particularly economics and political science, fields in which there was a dramatic rise in the quality and quantity of the literature published. The launching of the Alliance for Progress in the early 1960s encouraged the Latin American nations to compile and publish economic and social statistics which provided the data for more scholarly and sophisticated analyses as well as long-term projections. As a consequence of this development, the Handbook split into two components in 1964: humanities and social sciences, each represented by a separate volume to be published in alternate years.8

The role of our three academic publishers in the development and promotion of the Handbook cannot be overestimated: Harvard University Press, which published the volume from 1936 through 1947, took a gamble by launching the series; the University of Florida Press, which published the Handbook from 1948 through 1978, encouraged our first major expansion throughout the 1960s and 1970s, decades of extraordinary growth in Latin American studies; and our present publisher, the University of Texas Press, which has been issuing the Handbook since 1979, supported us not only through additional growth in the 1980s but encouraged us throughout the difficult conversion to automated publishing that culminated in HLAS 50, our first data-based volume for the 1990s.

The great boom in Latin American fiction of the 1960s and 1970s is also reflected in the extraordinary growth of the Handbook's literature section. In HLAS I, the entire literature section consisted of 40 pages prepared by three contributors. In HLAS 50, literature commands 202 pages and the labors of 31 contributors. Because the Handbook reflects developments in so many disciplines, it serves not only as a mirror but also as a gauge which allows us to trace the evolution of major fields, including the rise and fall of fashions, ideologies, and conceits, as well as for the recurrence of certain constants.9 In this sense, the Handbook has served as the world's historical record for Latin American studies in this century, and we hope that the automated version will play a similar role in the next century.


The growing sophistication of literary criticism that we noted in previous Handbooks continues in this volume, where we find "additional evidence of maturity in the study of Latin American literature." This applies not only to contemporary works but especially to critical reevaluations of classics and other texts of the Latin American past. One exemplary reexamination of a colonial writer is Rolena Adorno's analysis of Guamán Poma. Likewise, recent analyses of 19th-century writers reveal "increasing vigor, greater sophistication," and "improved theoretical formulation."

The strong correlation between politics and literature that has been characteristic of Latin America since the colonial period is especially evident in this volume in the literature of countries that suffered the most during the dictatorships of the 1970s and early 1980s. In Argentina, there is such a variety of works of fiction on the subject of military repression and persecution that evaluating them as "literary creations is almost impossible," especially in view of the fact that most are "personal testimonies or chronicles" rather than true novels or short stories. Future readers of these accounts will have to know the history of that turbulent era to appreciate the significance of such works. The novel of the dictatorship, a previously rare instance in Chilean literature, is now a firmly established genre among the nation's leading writers and is exemplified by works such as José Donoso's La desesperanza, Jorge Edwards' La mujer imaginaria, and Isabel Allende's De amor y de sombra. The major and to an extent political role played by Chilean women in the nation's literature is not only evident in the case of the internationally acclaimed Isabel Allende, but especially notable in the work of Lucía Guerra, whose novel Más allá de las máscaras "attests to the strong development of a Chilean feminism that is adversarial, polemical and militant."

Likewise with Latin American theater, which continues to grapple with the region's politics in plays that are overtly historical but inherently political. Well-known figures are selected by Latin American playwrights (e.g., Tupac Amaru, Morelos, Eva Perón) less for their historical significance than "for their metaphorical importance in contemporary political situations." In Brazilian theater "history" not only "continues to be a significant element" but "historical formats frame political messages." An excellent example is César Vieira's Morte aos brancos, which draws attention to a controversial problem in contemporary Brazil by portraying an Indian rebellion which took place in the colonial period. The same is true of the crônica, a Brazilian genre in which there still is a strong "symbiosis between sociohistorical context and literary production." Exceptions are a number of novelists in Brazil who use historical fiction to write what one contributor calls "escapist literature." In Mexico, prose fiction is also "overwhelmingly" concerned with the nation's modern history, especially the last 80 years, and in Central America literature reflects the region's turbulent contemporary history through a poetry that more often than not is clearly "social, political, and anti-imperialist."

We are pleased to note that there has been a remarkable increase in studies of Bolivian literature, a semi-neglected field in previous Handbooks, but one undergoing a minor boom in HLAS 50.

In 1978, HLAS 40 introduced the first annotated bibliography of translations of Latin American literature into English, prepared by a world-renowned translator, Margaret Sayers Peden. At the time, being pioneers in such an undertaking, we emphasized the importance of having a recognized practitioner of the art evaluate the quality of such renditions into English. Twelve years later, in 1990, we are pleased to report that no longer are either translating or evaluating the quality and skill of translations regarded as eccentric or marginal occupations in Latin American literature. The most recent example of such recognition is the fact that the well-known journal Hispania has launched a new "review section devoted to Translations," and that "translation itself is now a frequent topic at annual gatherings such as the MLA or the Kentucky Foreign Language Conference."

Insofar as history is concerned, this volume reflects many trends. Foremost is the return "to political and cultural issues, which were somewhat neglected during the heyday of economic and social historiography in the late 1970s and early 1980s." Economic historiography, however, continues to thrive, particularly in Peru, where there has been a notable increase in economic analyses of the republican period, despite the country's current economic plight, which hinders the research of its dedicated historians. The "vigorous trend in regional history" that we noted in previous Handbooks continues "unabated" in studies of pre- and post-revolutionary Mexico. A similar regional focus in studies of colonial Spanish South America leads our contributors to remark that "if any genre may be said to prevail, it is that of local history." And in Colombia, historians of the 19th century "have focused upon the role of regions in national formation." The importance of such regional studies in posing "new questions" and suggesting new "routes of investigation" is emphasized by our two historians of colonial Mexico as well as by the well-known Swedish scholar Magnus Mörner in an article on the importance of regional history.

In Brazilian historiography, there has been a notable revival of English-language scholarship following the decline we noted in previous Handbooks. This revival and the anniversaries of the abolition of slavery and the emergence of the Republic will further stimulate an already booming field of study. In Argentina, the emphasis on contemporary events which, as we noted above, is reflected in the nation's literature, is also evident in its historiography. According to our contributor, "nearly two-thirds of the publications" devoted to Argentina's national period "deal with the 20th century, and over half of them with the post-1930 years." In Chile, the "preeminent research topic" for historians continues to be the Allende regime. Indeed, emphasizes our contributor, "scholars analyze [the Allende regime's] rise to power, its policies and its demise with the same intensity with which they once studied the Balmaceda period." A similar fascination with contemporary history is evident in the Caribbean, where it has yielded scant results. The historian who covers the British Caribbean laments that, in general, "published works on the 20th century were characterized by their polemical tone and the absence of careful research." The historian who covers the Spanish Caribbean concurs by regretting that "Unfortunately, the more recent the period under study, the poorer the quality of the work published." Finally, the scholar who canvasses the modern history of Central America also deplores the fact that "much of the work" on the national period "suffers from inadequate or unscientific research."

The changing interpretation of Amazonian reality that we mentioned in previous Handbooks is once again evident in the present volume. Our ethnohistorian notes that the prior perception of Amazonia as the setting of a historyless "ethnographic present" has changed thanks to recent ethnohistoric studies of great depth and sophistication. No longer is the Amazon region perceived as "isolated," and many authors show a "readiness to interpret lowland microcosms within large historical constellations." Finally, the "emergence of university-educated Quechua, Aymara, and Araucanian intellectuals brings with it a growing production of native historiography, mostly concerned with recent times and usually focused on the task of connecting living 'Indian' memory with the documentary record."

Emerging subjects of historical research and literary topics that can be added to those we mentioned in HLAS 48 are, in the case of history, gender relations, sexuality, and ecological history. Examples are Bernard Lavalle's study of divorce and annulment proceedings in colonial Lima; Ramón Gutiérrez's study of honor, marriage, and class in colonial New Mexico; David McCreery's history of prostitution in Guatemala; and François Giraud's examination of rape in New Spain. An "outstanding pioneer" example of the new ecological history that is being written is Warren Dean's study of the Brazilian rubber industry from 1855 to present, which "for the first time explains convincingly why plantation production has not succeeded in Brazil." Another novel example is Robert Claxton's essay on colonial weather patterns. And in literature, Frangipani House, a novel written in English by a Guyanese writer, introduces the new and unusual "subject of the treatment of elderly women in modern society."

In the history of Latin American thought, there continues as before the zealous exploration of what constitutes the region's philosophy. This debate began in the 1930s, when there emerged two opposing tendencies that continue to this day: "universalist" as opposed to "Latin Americanist." An excellent article that explores with great insight and impartiality this controversial topic is Luis Villoro's "Sobre el Problema de la Filosofía Latinoamericana."

In contrast to history per se as well as history of Latin American thought, publications on the art history and art of Latin America are, as noted in previous Handbooks, uneven to say the least. There has been a decline in "the receipt of materials on the art history of Latin America in the 19th and 20th centuries," a fact that constitutes "a perplexing trend." And once again, the quality and quantity of studies on the art of Mexico and Brazil eclipse publications on other countries. There are, however, numerous exceptions, such as the outstanding study of Peruvian folk artist Joaquín López Antay which treats his life and art in the biographical form "more commonly used for well-known European artists" by tracing the "lines of artistic influence" on and "from the master" as well as his aesthetic "growth and development." One topic that continues to command much interest is the study of architecture and city planning, a trend that is most noticeable in the case of Brazil and in the literature on the colonial art of Spanish South America.

In contrast to the scarcity of publications on the region's art, the literature on Latin American music is thriving to such an extent that our musicologist laments the fact that selecting materials "poses a constantly increasing problem." The expansion is evident in works about Latin American popular music, "especially of the commercial variety." For example, the selection of Brazilian popular music in this Handbook comprises "20 annotated publications" with "the discography (most albums with liner notes)" running "to more than 140 titles."

Dolores Moyano Martin



1 Lewis Hanke, "Editor's Note," HLAS 1 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1936), p. xiii; David Bushnell and Lyle N. McAllister, "An Interview with Lewis Hanke," Hispanic American Historical Review (68:4, Nov. 1988, p. 673); Akira Iriye, "The Internationalization of History," The American Historical Review (94:1, Feb. 1989, p. 2).

2 Lewis Hanke, "The Development of Latin American Studies in the United States: 1939-1945," The Americas (Academy of American Franciscan History, Washington D.C., 4, July 1947/April 1948, p. 40).

3 Lewis Hanke, "The Early Development of Latin American Studies in the U.S." (in Studying Latin America: essays in honor of Preston E. James. Edited by David J. Robinson. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse Univ., Dept. of Geography, 1980, p. 113.

4 Hanke, "The Development of Latin American Studies in the United States: 1939-1945," p. 35.

5 J. Franklin Jameson, "A New American Historical Journal," Hispanic American Historical Review (1:1, Feb. 1918, p. 10).

6 Hanke, "The Development of Latin American Studies in the United States: 1939-1945," p. 37, 58-59.

7 Hanke, ibid., p. 36-37, 51-53, 60-61.

8 Earl J. Pariseau, "Editor's Note," HLAS 26 (Gainesville: Univ. of Florida Press, 1964, p. ix-x); Earl J. Pariseau, "Editor's Note," HLAS 27 (Gainesville: Univ. of Florida Press, 1965, p. ix-x).

9 The latest instance of the Handbook's serving as the historical record of and principal reference for a particular field of study is exemplified by a major work edited by David W. Dent and published in 1990: Handbook of political science research on Latin America: trends from the 1960s to the 1980s (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990, 448 p.). This work draws its conclusions almost exclusively from Handbook data.