||Albert J. Beveridge Grant|
Albert J. Beveridge GrantMarc Becker
The AHA Albert J. Beveridge Grant allowed me to make a relatively short but highly productive research trip to Ecuador during June and July of 1997. The primary focus of the trip was to research the question of class and ethnic forms of identity within Indigenous and peasant communities in the canton of Cayambe in the northern Ecuadorian highlands from the 1920s to the 1960s. The principle goal was to gather additional material to assist in the revision of my dissertation into a book. The trip was more than a success in achieving my objectives.
I spent most of my time reviewing communications regarding the administration of state-owned haciendas at the Fondo Junta Central de Asistencia Pública in the Museo Nacional de la Medicina in Quito. The poorly organized but extensive information contained in these documents meant that I made slow progress in their review but succeeded in gaining quality information which greatly exceeded my expectations. The information I extracted will be invaluable in the revisions I wish to make to my dissertation. This archive contains a wealth of untouched documentation, and I hope to return to it in the future for a longer period of research. I am assisting the archive in applying for funding for the indexing and preservation of their material, an undertaking which would greatly benefit not only myself but other researchers as well.
I also used my late afternoons and weekends in Quito to review newspaper (particularly El Comercio) and government documents (including the Registro Oficial) in a variety of libraries, including the Biblioteca Nacional, the library at the Universidad Católica, and the Biblioteca Ecuatoriana Aurelio Espinosa Pólit in Cotocollao. This information complemented and provided a broader historical context to that which I found in the archive.
As productive as this research was, perhaps that most important long-term benefit of this trip was strengthening existing and creating new professional contacts. I took advantage of this trip to return copies of my recently completed dissertation to archives and others who assisted me with the research. This, in turn, led to several requests to submit articles to Ecuadorian historical and academic journals, as well as preliminary discussions regarding the eventual publication of the entire dissertation as a book in Spanish in Ecuador. Although I am aware that foreign-language publications do not garner much prestige with job search or tenure review committees, I feel a moral obligation to return the results of my research to the country of origin in a manner which is accessible and useful. The Beveridge Grant provided me with access to contacts and openings which I can use to fulfill this goal.
I also spent a productive day researching the formation of comunas in the canton of Cayambe in the Ministry of Agricultural archives. I intend to use this information for a conference paper which I plan to present this fall at the Midwest Association for Latin American Studies (MALAS) conference in St. Louis. I was invited to present the preliminary results of this research at a symposium while I was in Ecuador on Tierras Comunales: Pasado y Presente (Communal Lands: Past and Present). The feedback I received at the symposium will prove invaluable in the writing of this essay. This symposium was such a success that the participants discussed publishing the papers together as an edited volume. Not only does this provide another publication possibility, it also offered me contact with scholars throughout Latin America who share similar research interests.
In addition to these scholarly activities, the timing of the trip also allowed me to observe the annual patron saint festivals (San Pedro) in Cayambe, the area of my research. Although I probably will not publish anything directly out of this experience, it provided me with exposure to issues of material culture and religious festivals and identity that are generally weak in my research. As such, it will provide more substance and flavor to my writing. I will also be able to use these experiences to enhance my classroom teaching.
Overall, this trip was very successful and will provide me with contacts and materials which will enrich my career. I thank the AHA for providing me with this grant.