"Tu táan yich in kaajal" [On The Face of My People]: Contemporary Maya-Spanish Bilingual Literature and Cultural Production from the Yucatan Peninsula

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0001-6922-6612
Salinas, Alicia, Spanish - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Pellon, Gustavo, Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, University of Virginia

Contemporary Maya literary and cultural production from the Yucatan Peninsula challenges sociolinguistic hegemonies and revises perceptions about the Maya in ongoing debates about contemporary Maya identity and its relationship to notions of historical Maya culture. This dissertation analyzes a corpus of Maya literature that has flourished since the 1980s in an almost exclusively Maya-Spanish bilingual form, as authors produce corresponding texts in both languages. My decolonial approach questions common assumptions about contemporary Maya culture, including the idea that indigenous-language writers must translate into Spanish to render their work knowable to dominant culture when there are few Maya-language readers. Whereas most scholars examine this corpus monolingually, my bilingual analysis recognizes each version of a “single” text as an autonomous text and illuminates the ways in which an author’s Maya and Spanish texts can posit different positions in debates on Maya identity and linguistic and cultural revitalization, and enact varied intertextualities. I discuss the diverse approaches authors take as they frame Maya identity, represent Maya women, and expose readers of the Spanish texts to Maya language and culture. In conclusion, I contemplate the role of contemporary bilingual literature in wider efforts to revitalize Maya language through education, journalism, music, radio, digital activism, and social media. My multidisciplinary approach draws upon literary and cultural studies, Maya linguistics, and Maya cosmology as viewed through anthropological, historical, and contemporary Maya understandings. This dissertation serves as a call to reconceptualize canons and concepts of Latin American literature when dominant-language materials do not account for all literary production in the region.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Maya, Yucatan, indigenous literatures, language revitalization, translation, indigenous languages, bilingual literature, Mexico, minoritized languages, oral literatures, Briceida Cuevas Cob, Feliciano Sanchez Chan, Sol Ceh Moo, Ana Patricia Martinez Huchim, Isaac Carrillo Can, Wildernain Villegas, Felipe Castillo Tzec, Ismael May May, Fidencio Briceño Chel, self-translation
Issued Date: