Fellow for Data Curation in Latin American and Latina/o Studies

LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at the University of Texas at Austin invites applications for a 2-year CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow for Data Curation in Latin American and Latina/o Studies. LLILAS Benson is a leader in post-custodial archival development and home to unique digital initiatives and collections such as the Primeros Libros de las Américas (PLA), the Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI), the U.S. Latino & Latina Oral History Project (Voces), the Digital Archive of the Guatemalan National Police (AHPN), the Archive of Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA), and the Latin American Digital Initiatives (LADI) repository.

For more than two decades, LLILAS Benson has been working to expand global access to unique Latin American and Latina/o collections. However, work is still needed to curate and bring these materials into the classroom so that students, researchers, and communities anywhere can apply digital methodologies and gain new insight. This fellowship offers an exciting opportunity for the selected candidate to contribute to broader University of Texas Libraries (UTL) efforts aimed at creating open educational resources and develop skills as a Latin American and Latina/o Studies digital scholarship practitioner.

The CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow will work closely with the LLILAS Benson digital scholarship coordinator, the current CLIR fellow, UTL academic engagement staff, and affiliated faculty to develop curated data sets, curricula and workshops centered on digital assets and tools, and open access resources that support scholarly and public engagement with digital materials. S/he will also work closely with the post-custodial archival team and partners in the U.S. and Latin America to inform the development of forthcoming digital collections and facilitate their use in digital research and pedagogy. The Fellow will have the opportunity to alter the way students, researchers, and affiliated communities access and engage with the digitized historical record.


The University of Texas at Austin is a tier-one research institution and home to more than 51,000 students and 3,000 teaching faculty. It is one of the top 20 public universities according to U.S. News & World Report, with the No. 1 accounting, Latin American history and petroleum engineering graduate programs in the country — plus more than 15 undergraduate programs and more than 40 graduate programs ranked in the top 10 nationally. UT is located in the heart of Austin, a vibrant city that frequently appears on lists of best cities to live and work.

In 2011, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) and the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection forged a historic partnership under the name of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections. This concentration of teaching and research has enabled new opportunities for collaboration between the two units, including in the area of human rights and digital initiatives.

A hallmark of this collaboration has been the development of a distinct post-custodial approach to preserving and providing access to vulnerable human rights documentation in the Latin America region, including initiatives such as HRDI, AHPN, and LADI. Rather than taking physical custody of these collections, LLILAS Benson partners with local archives and organizations and provides the archival training and equipment necessary to adequately preserve, arrange, describe, and digitize vulnerable human rights records onsite. The LLILAS Benson partnership has also broken down barriers that have traditionally existed between research libraries and academic units, enabling cutting-edge scholarship based on digital holdings, such as the NEH-funded “Reading the First Books” OCR-extension project using the Primeros Libros de las Américas collection.

These open access initiatives have contributed to and been primarily supported by UTL’s mission and values, which are based on four purposeful pathways: to expand and cultivate partnerships that contribute to research, teaching, and learning; develop a framework to support digital scholarship; prioritize distinctive collections; and focus on transformative spaces and innovative services. Additionally, UTL’s priority in generating and supporting open educational resources has led to the development of open repositories, such as Texas ScholarWorks and the Texas Data Repository through the Texas Digital Library, vital infrastructure that better positions LLILAS Benson in the creation of and access to much-needed teaching resources for Latin American and Latina/o Studies.

Key responsibilities

The Fellow for Data Curation in Latin American and Latina/o Studies will contribute to “collections as data” efforts, open educational resources, and digital scholarship initiatives at LLILAS Benson. S/he will engage with faculty and students (graduate and undergraduate) from various departments, Benson special collections and UTL staff, and partner institutions in the U.S. and Latin America to transform existing digital repositories into an ecosystem of resources for teaching and research.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Partnering with faculty to innovate teaching through the redesign or creation of new curricula, lesson plans, and workshops that draw on digital collections.
  • Curating datasets out of LLILAS Benson collection strengths to encourage the use of digital technologies in scholarship.
  • Exploring opportunities with post-custodial partner organizations and scholars to identify shared data and pedagogical needs from digital assets, and develop corresponding open, multilingual research and teaching resources.
  • Identifying best-practice for the ethical use of culturally/politically-sensitive content in the classroom and in public digital projects.
  • Engaging with a growing community of digital humanists across departments and collecting institutions to articulate a strategy for outreach and collaboration.
  • Writing grant proposals with affiliated faculty for “global classroom” and public engagement initiatives centered on LLILAS Benson digital collections.
  • Creating multilingual guides on digital tools and methods for use in courses and workshops taught at UT and partner institutions in the U.S. and Latin America.
  • Advising faculty and students on digital tools, techniques, collections, and repositories that are relevant to their research.
  • Supporting the digital scholarship coordinator in the design and presentation of public and classroom workshops.

The Fellow will also have the opportunity to pursue her/his own research and/or teaching interests using LLILAS Benson digital holdings. This could include, but is not limited to: the development of a digital project aimed at facilitating the exploration and analysis of collections and metadata; the implementation of curricula based on the Fellow’s scholarship and designed around curated Benson collection assets and open-source tools; or the experimentation with social platforms to engage global scholarly networks in the collaborative description, analysis, and interpretation of digitized primary sources. The Fellow will be encouraged to share her/his innovations in digital scholarship and data curation at conferences, professional meetings, and local symposia.

Desired Skills & Expertise

The Fellow will hold a doctorate in a discipline relevant to the study of Latin America or Latina/os, and demonstrate familiarity and/or expertise in digital scholarship. Experience with digital teaching platforms, research tools/methodologies, assets, and metadata is highly desirable. Professional working proficiency in Spanish and/or Portuguese is required.

Compensation and Professional Development

The Fellow will receive a salary of $65,000 per year ($5,417 per month) plus benefits. S/he will also be eligible for funds to cover moving expenses and professional development funding, which can be used for conference travel, workshops, classes, and/or other training opportunities. LLILAS Benson’s Digital Scholarship Coordinator, Post-Custodial Archivist, and Head of Special Collections will work closely with the Fellow to support tasks and share expertise. Key responsibilities will also require regular interactions with UTL staff, affiliated faculty, and digital humanists throughout campus that can become mentorship opportunities. UTL and other UT Austin entities also offer regular training on diverse digital tools and methodologies that the Fellow can attend.