Voices from 'La Movida': Indexing Spain’s Underground Magazines from the Transition Period
The Spanish Transition Period has emerged as a major research focus for faculty and scholars working on 20th Century Spanish literature, culture and history. It roughly follows the death of Francisco Franco, Spain’s ultraconservative and anti-democratic head of state, in late 1975 and ends roughly in 1978 with the signing of the Spanish Constitution. With the end of dictatorship came democracy and the political awakening of a society that had been repressed and isolated for almost forty years. During this period and through the end of the Eighties, Spanish intellectuals, artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians and designers, developed a countercultural movement commonly referred to as La Movida that engaged a young generation and helped forge a new Spanish identity. Spaniards desperately needed an injection of modernity; cities like Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao erupted with cultural events that pushed the limits on sexuality, gender and aesthetics influenced by the punk and new wave sub-cultures of London, Berlin and New York.
La Movida has become an iconic period in Spanish modern history, a popular area of specialization in Peninsular literature. Numerous educators rooted in Hispanic Studies divisions across the globe have offered courses devoted to the literature, culture and films that burgeoned from this movement; as a result, demand for access to contemporary primary sources has increased.
In spite of high demand, the electronic tools providing access to relevant primary resources remain limited at best. No underground magazine from this period is indexed in any commercial database or national/academic digital project. My project, Voces de La Movida, will result in an open access database where researchers will be able to find citations and metadata for articles, comic strips and reviews published in three different Spanish magazines from this period – Madrid Me Mata (Madrid, 16 issues, 1984-1988), Madriz (Madrid, 33 issues, 1984-1987) and La Luna de Madrid (Madrid, about 50 issues, 1982-1988). None of these magazines have been digitized and complete runs outside of Spain are rare. The John Hay Library at Brown University holds near complete runs of each of these publications, which I intermittently acquired for special collections in the last five years to fill the growing demand.
The primary goal of the project is to create a database containing a comprehensive index of the magazines with pertinent metadata and develop a website to serve as an open access portal for the public. Funding from the WESS-SEES De Gruyter European Librarianship Study Grant and the Dan C. Hazen SALALM Fellowship has allowed me to travel to Madrid twice and continue collecting data on the issues not held at Brown (as of August 2016 we only lacked 15 issues, as opposed to 65 in January of the same year).
My research abroad was divided into two phases, each lasting about a month when classes were not in session at Brown University – January 4-28, 2016 and June 3-28, 2016. In the first phase, I tackled seven issues from Madrid Me Mata and about seven issues of La Luna de Madrid at the Biblioteca Nacional and the Residencia de Estudiantes. In the second phase, I focused solely in La Luna de Madrid at the Biblioteca Nacional.
Methodology and technical aspects
Last fall, I met with Brown colleagues in the digital humanities to determine the feasibility of this project, and to help me define the structure, design and scope of the index, database and website. Soon after, once I decided what information should be excluded, I began building the database with relevant metadata fields (title, author, journal, volume, number, date, pages, type of document, tags including named persons/events/places, notes). I also ran a test index of one issue of La Luna de Madrid held at the John Hay Library to measure my workflow – two days per issue on average.
Brown’s Center for Digital Scholarship is currently helping me develop the database using the Library’s Fedora-based repository, the Brown Digital Repository (BDR), and designing a Brown-hosted Wordpress site, now in place, that I will maintain. The project’s research products and files will be archived and made accessible through the BDR and assigned digital object identifiers so that users can better discover and cite these materials. The project will be disseminated to the public through the website which will link users to the database.
In addition to gathering relevant data and populating the database, I am creating a brief project overview page to define the scope of the index and place these magazines in a historical context as well as provide descriptive information of each title – price, place of publication, language, type of paper and dimensions.
Given the audience, Spanish is the language chosen for the content of the database and website. All tags and texts are in Spanish. This will not be a bilingual project.
Why an index and not a full-text digital project?
Collaborating with the BNE and/or private collectors to provide open-access to the full-text of these periodicals with OCR capability would be ideal for researchers; however, obtaining legal permission from publishers, editors and estate executers to reproduce these materials and making them openly available has proven to be an insurmountable challenge. Given the existing restrictions on copyright, open-access to digital surrogates of these magazines is not an option. The demand for an index from researchers is nonetheless considerable.
While digital surrogates of the magazines will not be available in open access, users will be able to determine from the records in the database if the article/s or image/s they are looking for are available at Brown University Library or the Biblioteca Nacional. Both libraries can provide digital scans for personal use by request.
Voces de La Movida is a two-year project. My plan is to index Madrid Me Mata and La Luna de Madrid by May 2017 and index all of Madriz (which has less pages) by December of that year. The magazines will be loaded into the database as the indexing is completed for each full run.
For more information in Spanish, please visit the project’s website.
Curator, Iberian and Latin American Collections