Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Poems from the mirror: The re-imagination of indigenous identities through literary and visual narratives in Oaxaca
by Fachin, Dina, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2008, 208; 3329710
Abstract (Summary)

Through the appropriation of visual technology and of the phonetic Latin alphabet in the transcription of indigenous languages, new generations of indigenous people from the Americas have been re-examining and interrogating the complexities of indigenous identities from "within" their cultural constructs. In so doing, they have been shaping new narratives of adaptation and survival informed by local, indigenous ways of looking at the world that provide critical responses to the homogenizing forces of national and global rhetoric. Most importantly, their works aim to acknowledge the existence and participation of indigenous peoples in today's societies, thus dismantling the colonial legacy of stereotyping that has confined communities, tribes and individuals alike to a remote past. In particular, the works by indigenous writers, intellectuals and community videomakers (both indigenous and non-indigenous) from Oaxaca, Mexico, put forward creative ways to conceive and to know individual and communal identities that cannot be understood outside specific ancient notions of territoriality. Although some of Mexico's most progressive thinkers of the past and current centuries portend an intellectual sensitivity that has become more self-examining and critical of the construction of a homogenous Mexican nation, the work of "grassroots" cultural producers provides us with a deeper understanding of the theoretical potential of "community" organic intellectualism. In light of the personal and collective engagement entailed in the reproduction of knowledge, languages, oral traditions, and relationships with the cosmos, these narratives constitute tools to re/member, that is to say recall and put together again, indigenous identities. At the same time, the indefinite, partial quality of the images reflected on the mirror (a metaphor for culture) remind us that tradition is not the still picture of a blurred, edenic past, but an ever-changing reality where people make sense of their lives and times. The written and visual narratives under examination demonstrate that, besides fostering cultural diversity and the circulation of aesthetic, and political agendas, critical negotiations between traditional cultural values and "western" means of production are crucial to community cohesion and to the validation of local, pedagogical strategies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor:
Commitee:
School: University of California, Davis
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 69/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Latin American literature, Cultural anthropology, Native American studies
Keywords: Community videomaking, Indigenous, Indigenous epistemologies, Indigenous literature, Mexico, Oaxaca, Oaxaca indigenous people, Self-representation, Territorial identity, Visual narratives
Publication Number: 3329710
ISBN: 9780549854357
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