More than survival : literary representations of Indigenous women in 21st century México

Date
2023-07-27
Authors
Sánchez Flores, Jessica L.
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Abstract

In this dissertation, I engage in an interdisciplinary and critical conversation on contemporary Indigenous cultural production, with particular emphasis on gendered violence, self-representation, and survivance. Gerald Vizenor (2008) coined the term survivance, and it centers Indigenous stories beyond victimhood (1). In my dissertation, I show how Indigenous people of México use literature to navigate and critique landscapes of violence and dispossession while simultaneously proposing a vision of survivance rather than perpetual victimhood. Various scholars have studied Indigenous women’s self-representation and their creative work in Latin America (Arias, 2013; McDonough 2014; Coon 2015; del Valle Escalante, 2015; Chacón, 2018). In my dissertation, I move these discussions forward by focusing on the various ways Indigenous women challenge expectations (Deloria 2004) both in their own communities and beyond. I analyze the works created by Indigenous individuals affiliated with the three most spoken Indigenous languages in México–Nahuatl, Zapotec, and Maya. In the first chapter, I focus on well-known Nahua playwright Ildefonso Maya Hernández's play Pitah Chacatzintla (1964; 1971) which presents us with a window into the life of a Nahua woman in the 1960s. In the second chapter I analyze Maya Yucatec author Sol Ceh Moo’s bilingual (Spanish and Maya Yucatec) novel Chen tumeen chu’úpen…/Sólo por ser mujer (2015) and the ways Honorina’s character challenges multiple violence(s). In the third chapter, I discuss Indigenous women and pleasure with Zapotec poet Irma Pineda’s erotic poetry book Naxiña’ Rului’ladxe’ / Rojo Deseo (2018). Moreover, I underline how the protagonists negotiate dominant-culture expectations and promote their own narratives and representations of indigeneity in México from the 1960s to the present day. As a move toward an anti-colonial methodology, cosas de mujeres (women’s things) helps me build a theoretical framework based on lived female experiences. I participated in actions such as sewing and cooking as generative, knowledge-producing activities that often occur in the kitchen to co-create knowledge(s) with them (Brooks 2006). In sum, this project sheds new light on contemporary Nahua, Zapotec, and Maya protagonists as weavers of their own stories, who are a part of, and significant contributors to Mexican society and the world at large.

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