Dr. Andrea Fanta, an associate professor of Latin American Culture and WPHL Faculty Fellow from the Modern Languages Department, has won a Fulbright US Scholar award to teach and conduct research in Bogota, Colombia. Dr. Fanta's work centers on the Latin American Diaspora Archive. The archive's mission is to collect and preserve first-person stories from the Latin American diaspora, creating an audio-visual memory for these communities and articulating a digital heritage that reconstructs the historical realities of displacement experienced by Latin Americans.
During her time in Colombia as a Fulbright US scholar, Dr. Fanta plans to broaden the scope of her research and teaching experience on the origins of the political, historical, and cultural realities of the Colombian migration to the United States, as well as on digital narratives and digital-born archives as potential mediums for dissemination. She will be teaching a course titled "Digital Memories of the Latin American Diaspora: Archiving, Storytelling, and Preservation" for the M.A. in Cultural Studies at Universidad Javeriana. In this course, students will delve into the topic of how our identities and memories are shaped, hidden, and even erased. Students will explore the impact of digital memory and storytelling on preserving individual and communal identities and memories. The course will also investigate the concept of archives as a method for acquiring, collecting, conserving, interpreting, communicating, and exhibiting artifacts, and how archival methods can aid in the construction of history and the creation of cultural memory.
Dr. Fanta's personal interest in migratory and diasporic life has led her to conduct research on the experience of migration through the collection and preservation of oral narratives. Her project aims to hold the largest repository of personal accounts from the Latin American diaspora as a humanities digital archive. "To me, the Latin American Diaspora Archive is a token, a tangible manifestation of facts, experiences, and stories that could hold a path to understanding our humanity," Dr. Fanta said.
The Latin American experience is a complex and multifaceted one, characterized by diverse cultural traditions, histories, and identities. However, with the transnational flows and mass migrations that are a result of globalization, the Latin American experience extends throughout the globe. This fact was highlighted by a study released in 2021 by the Center for Economic Development at Harvard University, which estimated that five million Colombians, or 10% of the country's population, now reside abroad.
This reality serves as the backdrop for Dr. Fanta´s research project that seeks to investigate the notion that the Latin American experience is not limited to a region south of the Rio Grande. To do so, Dr. Fanta's project raises important questions about how national identity is defined when people are in motion, what it means to be Latin American, and the conditions that force or allow a person to leave their homeland. Moreover, Dr. Fanta's project also aims to explore how memories can be preserved and recorded to better understand the Latin American experience. The project draws on personal stories, diasporic experiences, memories, and affect that emerge from having left a homeland.
Dr. Fanta's project is a valuable contribution to the study of Latin American experience, offering insights into the complexities of national identity, the conditions that give rise to migration, and the ways in which memories can be preserved and interpreted. Through the preservation of personal stories and memories, the project highlights the rich cultural heritage and diverse contributions of the Latin American diaspora to the history of the continent.