Indigenous Cosmolectics

Kab'awil and the Making of Maya and Zapotec Literatures

By Gloria Elizabeth Chacón

260 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, notes, bibl

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3679-5
    Published: November 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3675-7
    Published: November 2018
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-3682-5
    Published: September 2018

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Latin America's Indigenous writers have long labored under the limits of colonialism, but in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries, they have constructed a literary corpus that moves them beyond those parameters. Gloria E. Chacón considers the growing number of contemporary Indigenous writers who turn to Maya and Zapotec languages alongside Spanish translations of their work to challenge the tyranny of monolingualism and cultural homogeneity. Chacón argues that these Maya and Zapotec authors reconstruct an Indigenous literary tradition rooted in an Indigenous cosmolectics, a philosophy originally grounded in pre-Columbian sacred conceptions of the cosmos, time, and place, and now expressed in creative writings. More specifically, she attends to Maya and Zapotec literary and cultural forms by theorizing kab'awil as an Indigenous philosophy. Tackling the political and literary implications of this work, Chacón argues that Indigenous writers' use of familiar genres alongside Indigenous language, use of oral traditions, and new representations of selfhood and nation all create space for expressions of cultural and political autonomy.

Chacón recognizes that Indigenous writers draw from universal literary strategies but nevertheless argues that this literature is a vital center for reflecting on Indigenous ways of knowing and is a key artistic expression of decolonization.

About the Author

Gloria Elizabeth Chacon is assistant professor of literature at the University of California, San Diego. Chacon's work has appeared in Canada, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, and the United States.
For more information about Gloria Elizabeth Chacón, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"A meaningful contribution to the study of Indigenous cultural production, and particularly to the understanding of Indigenous literatures across Mesoamerica."--Tracy Devine Guzmán, University of Miami

"Indigenous Cosmolectics is a brilliant literary exploration of the interweaving of the splendid Indigenous past and their abject present. Chacón is a rising star and has produced an important book that casts a fresh light and changes our understanding of this crucial field."--Arturo Arias, University of California, Merced