As I near the end of my time in Buenos Aires, I am both a little overwhelmed and overwhelming pleased with the amount of material and information I have been able to gather in the last few weeks. It has been a productive trip, and I am looking forward to returning to New York to begin carefully analyzing and writing about this material.
I have focused my research in the Archive and the library of the Museo Histórico Sarmiento, where I have been fortunate to find a lot of the what I was looking for in edited—as opposed to the original document or on microfilm—form, although in vary rare editions I would have been unlikely to have access to elsewhere. This means I have also been able to photocopy some of the material, which will be of much help when I begin writing. In addition, the staff at the Museo has been immensely helpful and welcoming, which has made my work easy. I had expected to spend much more time running around Buenos Aires, but have instead found that the Museo could provide me with most of the material I was seeking.
In my time here, one of the most useful pieces of material I have looked at has been the physical (paper) catalogue of the Archive. When I arrived, the electronic database, which is keyword-searchable, was down and I was initially disappointed by the technical challenge. However, combing through the entire catalogue—which includes keywords and summaries for each of the pieces in the Archive’s collective—proved to be immensely productive, as it drew my attention to documents and keywords I would not otherwise have thought to look at or for. Challenges this such as this have helped me broaden my search and open my thinking to more innovative angles and approaches.
The greatest pleasure of my time in Buenos Aires has been meeting with local scholars, which I mentioned in my last post, to discuss my research. Conversation with experts in the field and the difference of perspective has been immensely refreshing. For example, Adriana Amante, a Sarmiento scholar who teaches at the Universidad de Buenos Aires as well as NYU Buenos Aires, was particularly helpful in (re)opening my thinking and my search toward Sarmiento’s other published texts as potential resources for my research project.
In the remaining week I will be looking at a final selection of letters I’ve made from my reading of the catalogue and also hope to take a look at the original edition(s) of the Facundo, which are held in the library of the Museo. Finally, I will be spending some time in several of Buenos Aires’s many bookstores, browsing for hard-to-get and unexpected finds.
Attached to this post is a photograph of the main room of the Archive at the Museo, where I have done most of my work. Over the desk hangs a late portrait of Sarmiento in military uniform, one of many that are scattered around the offices of the Museo.
PhD Candidate, Comparative Literature