Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Fireflies in the night: Indigenous metaphor in Zapatista folktales
by Schuettler, David J., Ph.D., Union Institute and University, 2007, 346; 3253737
Abstract (Summary)

The intent of this comparative hermeneutic study is to examine how Subcomandante Marcos, spokesperson for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), expresses an indigenous worldview rooted in the Popol Vuh as a foundation for Zapatismo through the Viejo Antonio tales. The dissertation has two parts: the study itself and the English translations of the tales. The research is based upon the notion that folktales play a role in defining a people's culture and worldview, and that such texts create and maintain ethnic identity. It is also based upon Lakoff and Johnson's cognitive approach to metaphor which argues that metaphor influences one's perceptions of the world. The cognitive approach provides a rationale for understanding how indigenous oral stories and myth-histories furnish the metaphors that Subcomandante Marcos employs in the Viejo Antonio texts, called historias or "neo-myths" in this document, to impart an indigenous legitimacy to Zapatismo. The historias are classified as neo-indigenista literature, literature written to portray indigenous culture as a source of values that offer alternative perspectives for political and economic policy.

Through Ricoeur's hermeneutic method employing distanciation and appropriation, this study extracts metaphors from the historias that are then compared to similar metaphors found in Tzotzil folktales and the Popol Vuh. The study shows that while Mayan narrative techniques and cultural references are found in the historias, most establish indigenous authority through the re-creation of themes and scenes in the Popol Vuh. Underlying these references are indigenous metaphors that describe the Zapatistas as both objects and actors embodying key Zapatista values. In particular, the Popol Vuh's theme of dawning, of light piercing the darkness, is used as a metaphor for the indigenous themselves in several historias. Through this metaphor, the indigenous are charged with the task of initiating and embodying a new world based upon the memory of the past.

This study suggests that metaphorical analyses of the rhetoric of indigenous rights movements may illuminate connections to indigenous folktales and myth-histories that define a movement's objectives and participants. As in Ricoeur's methodology, the final section represents a personal experience of the texts as expanding one's personal horizons.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lohr, Cherie
School: Union Institute and University
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 68/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Latin American literature, Folklore
Keywords: Folktales, Indigenous, Maya, Metaphor, Popol Vuh, Zapatista
Publication Number: 3253737
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