Modern society and culture did not spontaneously come about, which is why it’s so important to examine all types of history and culture. Classes that focus on Latin American history are so important for this reason, as they present the opportunity to expand our knowledge and awareness of diverse cultures. Several Wiki Education-affiliated classes have explored topics related to Latin America in the past year. Two of these courses were held by educators at Wesleyan University (Corinna Zeltsman’s Survey of Latin American History) and New College of Florida (Sarah Hernandez’s Latin American Social Theory).
There are different ways to showcase the many facets of a culture and to pass along powerful messages about its importance – one of these ways is through the written word, as Zeltsman’s class could tell you. The Guayaquil Group, as these students explored, was an Equadorian literary group that formed in the 1930s as a result of the oppression of the Ecuadorian mestizo people. Its primary members were Joaquín Gallegos Lara, Enrique Gil Gilbert, Demetrio Aguilera Malta, José de la Cuadra, and Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco, all of whom used social realism as a way of showing the real Ecuadorian montubio and cholo.
Students in Hernandez’s class examined Latin American literature, prompting one student to write an article on Clotilde Betances Jaeger, a feminist writer and journalist who was active in New York’s Puerto Rican intellectual community. Her advocacy for the rights of minority children and education raised awareness around these issues and challenged the traditional conservative roles of Hispanic women; Betances Jaeger felt that it was important for women to get involved in the political independence of Puerto Rico.
Examining the past is always important, as academic and anthropologist Néstor García Canclini would tell you. His work examines modernity, postmodernity, and culture from the Latin American perspective and is considered to be one of the foremost scholars in this area. He also coined the phrase “cultural hybridization,” which his article describes as a phenomenon that “materializes in multi-determined scenarios where diverse systems intersect and interpenetrate.” Students from Hernandez’s class also expanded the article on Machi (shaman) to include information on gender. Machis are traditional healers within the Mapuche culture of Chile and Argentina and while they’re typically female, males can also become Machis and are called Machi Weye. Machi, especially male and transgender Machi, face discrimination if the people around them do not feel like they are fitting into traditional gender roles – despite being seen as religious leaders in their communities.
Students and educators have a wealth of knowledge that is surpassed only by their passion to learn and teach, two things that are incredibly well suited to the task of Wikipedia editing as an educational assignment. If you’re interested in taking part, please contact Wiki Education at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can gain access to tools, online trainings, and printed materials.