Lessons through Letters: Building a Digital Archive on Chilean Political Exile in the Cold War

Sunday, January 8, 2012: 9:10 AM
Chicago Ballroom A (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Jadwiga E. Pieper Mooney, University of Arizona
This presentation will be structured around two aspects of the meanings of correspondence in Latin American history: presentation and interpretation.  First, I will present some of the challenges of building an archive that contains letters as primary sources of the Cold War and of the history of Chilean exile after 9/11/1973.  Second, I will discuss a number of key points related to the value of letters as historical sources and their importance for teaching and writing 20th century history. Themes will include tensions between private information and public presentation, the use of letters as sources to write about recent historical events, as well as the value of published and unpublished letters as historical sources that challenge official histories.  In this context, I will also address questions of presenting and interpreting letters in the context of class, gender, and interpretive power.