Diogo Rodrigues de Barros: Latin America in its Culture: history of an intellectual network under the auspices of the UNESCO

In its resolution 3.325 (14th General Conference, Paris, 1966), the UNESCO determined that “in order to contribute to the study, presentation and mutual appreciation of cultures […], the Director-General is authorized to undertake the study of Latin American cultures as expressed in their literature and art and so to establish their characteristics”. To comply with this resolution, the editorial collection Latin America in its Culture was initiated under the coordination of Argentinian poet and essayist César Fernández Moreno, later to become director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean (Havana, Cuba). A volume on literature (1972, directed by Fernandez himself) was followed in 1978 by a volume on art under the direction of Argentinian art historian Damián Bayón. Combining analysis of the books and of the intellectual trajectories of Fernández and Bayón with extensive archival material, this investigation aims at examining the contribution of the UNESCO editorial collection to an intellectual Latin American culture network in which the national, the regional and the global were coexisting spheres of historical thinking. It suggests that regional artistic identity should be read here less as an aspiration to an ontology and more as the result of a deliberate political effort towards international dialogue. Do the current transregional efforts in Art History bypass national and regional identities? Or rather, quoting the above-mentioned 1966 resolution, is establishing local specificity still imperative for a “mutual appreciation of cultures”?

Diogo Rodrigues de Barros has a BA in History from the University of São Paulo and an MA from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS, Paris). He is currently a PhD candidate in Art History at the University of Montreal (UdeM, Canada). In his doctoral research, he discusses the current global and transregional approaches in Art History by revisiting regional scholarly and museological projects on Latin American art developed from the 1970s to the beginning of the 1990s. As a lecturer at UdeM, he has taught ‚History of Collections‘ (Winter 2016), ‚Modern Arts in Latin America‘ (Winters 2017, 2018 and 2019) and the ‚Synthesis seminar‘ (Master’s Program in Museology, Winter 2018).


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