On 17 May 2019, the Cartonera Publishing team facilitated a cartonera workshop at the British Library, in collaboration with María Soledad Montañez and Rahul Berry (Translator-in Residence, British Library/IMLR). The event brought the Cartonera Publishing project together with the AHRC Open World Research Initiative project ‘Cross Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’ from the Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London, led by Professor Catherine Davies.
Our team, which joined forces with the OWRI project thanks to Patrick O’Hare, is delighted to have provided training and inspiration for the ‘Cross Language Dynamics’ strand. This has enabled them to develop their own Cartonera project – one strand of their action-research on community engagement with the Latin American community in Southwark led by Dr María Soledad Montañez (Research Fellow in Community Engagement, OWRI/IMLR). The engagement project explores creative tools and resources for an effective and sustainable approach to improve service access and engagement by the Latin American community in South London.
The Cartoneras Community Engagement Project in London was delivered in partnership with the Latin American Youth Forum (LAYF) from the Indoamerican Refugee and Migration Organisation (IRMO). The LAYF is a youth-led initiative for young people (age 13-19 years old) to become more actively involved in their community. LAYF aims to help participants to maximise their potential and move into education, training and/or employment.
The creative workshops were delivered every Friday from May to June, and closed with a public exhibition designed and presented by the participants.
The Cartonera Community Engagement Project explored notions of community, identity and language through a series of workshops, from creative writing to book making. Participants produced texts about their experience of being a Latin American in London, which were then made into bilingual cartonera books. The workshops were delivered at a crucial time in history: the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU. This development in political history will have a significant –yet unpredictable- impact on migrant communities in the country.
Participant feedback on the workshop at the British Library includes:
“This was an excellent workshop- rich in content and very approachable and accessible”
“Brilliant context at the beginning of the event, and excellent accessible hands-on element”
“Brilliant project from some brilliant researchers! And a great exposure to a different side of Latin American culture and cultural production”
“Very well planned and executed! Big thank you to the British Library for offering this!”
“I like the combination of information about current research and hands-on creative activity. It brought the impact of this research area to life”
“Cartoneras is a very important area of grassroots support, both for recycling and literacy. Wonderful to hear about about how Cartoneras developed in Latin America, and how has begun to spread world-wide. This community based initiative embodies values that can benefit all communities whatever their cultural or socioeconomic level. Everyone can recycle, everyone can be creative, everyone can promote literacy and build community”
Accompanying the exhibition, we organised a two-day event with the participation of 25 cartonera actors, writers, poets, thinkers and academics from Mexico, Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, the UK and the US. The encuentro took place on 7-8 November 2018 in the Casa do Povo, comprising a series of roundtable discussions and a reflective workshop around the theme of resistence.
Conversations focused on the social and / or political role of a cartonera publisher, the cartonera book as object and text, and the criteria that cartonera editors employ to choose the works they publish. This meet-up prompted fruitful discussions and debates, which will be invaluable to the research team, and which provided an opportunity for knowledge exchange between the participants.
Curated by Alex Flynn and Beatriz Lemos, the exhibition ‘Cartonera’ is based upon an ethnographic collaboration between the AHRC research team and diverse cartonera publishers from Brazil and Mexico and beyond. To be held at the Casa do Povo, São Paulo from 27th October 2018 – 15th January 2019, the exhibition will present a panorama of the cartonera phenomenon, presenting over 100 books from different cartoneras across Latin America, and contextualizing the rapid growth of this movement.