Rudolfo Anaya’s Maize Narratives: A Decolonizing Approach

Arbino, Daniel
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Aztlan: Journal of Chicano Studies

A major literary figure of Chicano literature, Rudolfo Anaya's career has often drawn on sociocultural issues pertaining to Indohispano groups in the U.S. Southwest. Nevertheless, Anaya has been the subject of numerous studies that criticize his work within the context of the Chicano movement for evading explicit conflict with mainstream American society. Calling on decolonial theories as proposed by Roberto Cintli Rodriguez, Jodi Byrd, and Winona Wheeler, I propose that by reading Anaya's texts through a lens of decolonization, his work is best thought of not as a counter-narrative to the Americanization of the U.S. Southwest, but rather as a narrative of Indohispano resiliency. He fosters this resiliency through the symbolism of maize, and therefore, I refer to his works as maize narratives. Throughout his forty-seven year career, maize serves as a recurring trope whose meaning changes. Herein I will examine several representative works of Anaya’s career to show how maize shifts from affirming one’s identity to becoming a vehicle for kinship networks, from serving as a marker of syncretism to a marker of loss in a globalizing world. I conclude that Anaya’s maize narratives allow the possibility of moving beyond colonizing discourse to recover communities lost to modern-day nation-states.

Arbino, Daniel. "Rudolfo Anaya's Maize Narratives: A Decolonizing Approach." Aztlan: Journal of Chicano Studies, vol. 44, no. 2 (2019), pp. 11-39.