Popular Education in Revolutionary Times: Reflecting on Nicaragua's Popular Education Program in the 1980s

About The Archive

The exhibit focuses on Nicaragua’s Adult/Popular Education program developed as part of a national campaign in the 1980’s. After the Sandinista revolution during the late 1970s, one of the government’s priorities was to eradicate illiteracy in the country through its national literacy crusade. Part of the campaign was to send literate people from the cities to rural areas in order for them to work with rural dwellers so they could learn from each other. The people from the cities thus worked on the farms during the day and taught at night. This exhibit tries to capture the significance of this historical process not only to Nicaragua but to Latin America.

As the exhibit social and geographical content focuses on Nicaragua during the Sandinista revolution period and given this has such a strong presence in the archival materials, I am interested in: —What is the story behind the archive? What processes and events led to the collection of this work? —What was Prof. Barndt’s experience collecting this material?

The Archive

The collection presented in this project is part of a major archival source donated by Deborah Barndt to the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC). The archive is preserved at the Resource Centre where they have extensive collections with publications in mostly Spanish, English and Portuguese. The content of the collection focuses on Nicaragua during the Sandinista revolutionary government and their national campaign in Popular and Adult education. This collection also presents Deborah Barndt’s own photographs from this historical event in Nicaragua. Through her camera, she was able to document a process that embraces education, collective work and solidarity.

Process and Collaboration with Deborah Barndt

There are two major aspects that have enriched my experience during the creation of this project and they are both related to the process in which this collection was created. First, the support, camaraderie and collaboration from my supervisors and fellow RAs Samantha Cutrara, Anna StOnge, Wendy Medina, Denise Challenger and Robyn LeLacheur. The group and solo meetings, workshops and presentations allow us to formulate, conceptualize and explore different approaches to create and present content within the digital humanities. Through the project, I have gained technical/practical knowledge about archiving and the process and standards required to properly work with digital archives.

Lastly, I have been fortunate to be able to connect and talk about the collection with Deborah Barndt . This has been greatly beneficial as she documented this historical moment in Nicaraguan history and was willing to share her personal account of this process for the project. The creation process of this project has been a collaboration between Deborah and myself as we met on a regular basis to talk about the project: the archive, her experience in Nicaragua during her multiple trips, popular education, and the relevance that this work has in our present.  

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