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Published: 30 June 2020

Modern Languages and Anthropology researchers champion grassroots publishing in Latin America and the UK

Funding from AHRC’s Research Grants for Early Careers and GCRF schemes has enabled an interdisciplinary team of researchers to investigate how the circular economy, cultural activism and grassroots literature support each other in ‘cardboard publishing’ in Brazil and Mexico.

The ‘Cartonera  Publishing in Latin America’ research project, led by Dr Lucy Bell from the University of Surrey, triggered the creation of new library collections and inspired NGOs such as IRMO (the Indoamerican Refugee and Migrant Organization) to run new creative projects for young people and other groups

When Dr Bell bought her first cartonera book on a research trip in 2011, she became aware of a gap in Latin American Studies – and research libraries – in the UK. She set out to investigate the artistic, social and political value of ‘cardboard books’. The project she designed would involve bringing this environmentally-friendly and creative way of engaging communities with literature and social activism to the UK for the first time.

The team consisted of specialists in Anthropology (Co-Investigator Dr Alex Flynn and Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Patrick O’Hare) and Modern Languages: Spanish and Portuguese (Dr Lucy Bell). Together they created a unique interdisciplinary methodology, combining innovative post-critical literary analysis with new ethnographic methods.

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