With the funding generously provided by the Society of Fellows and by the Buckner W. Clay Endowment for the Humanities I spent this summer (2012) conducting archival research in six South American capitals: Asunción (Paraguay), La Paz (Bolivia), Lima (Peru), Quito (Ecuador), Santiago (Chile), and Buenos Aires (Argentina). I visited national libraries, national archives, and congressional libraries and archives and collected data on national budgets, congressional debates, and legislators going back to mid-nineteenth century until present day for all those countries. I was also able to review newspapers and diarios and gacetas oficiais (official publications from the executive power) for some of those countries, as well as to look for indigenous literature (not available in the United States) on those countries’ history, politics, and economy.
Among the few bumps I encountered during my fieldwork, a coup d’état in Paraguay and peasant protest in Bolivia stand out. Nevertheless, the contacts I have established in all those countries as well as insider knowledge the local bureaucracies are invaluable gains from this experience. Not only the opportunity to conduct this fieldwork added great value to my current research by allowing me to build a dataset not available until then, but it also opened doors for future research in those countries and inspired new research projects. I am thus extremely grateful to the Society of Fellows and to the Buckner W. Clay Endowment for the Humanities for making my on-site research possible.