Beyond Indigenismo: Contemporary Mexican Literature of Indigenous Theme Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Hunt, Kevin T.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Romance Studies
  • This dissertation reads seven recent texts about Mexican Indians in light of previous critiques of indigenismo. It asserts that literary indigenismo and its inherent contradictions persist alongside "hybrid" genres such as testimonio and also indigenous-produced literatura indígena, which is steadily growing in influence. The introductory chapter gives a brief overview of literary indigenismo in Mexico, citing critics Antonio Cornejo Polar, Joseph Sommers, Cynthia Steele and Analisa Taylor. It establishes precedents for the readings in subsequent chapters. Chapter 2 treats Graciela Limón's Erased Faces and argues that the influence of indigenismo is still evident in novels produced as late as the early twenty-first century. Changes and limitations in the testimonio novel are examined in Memorial del tiempo o Vía de las conversaciones by Jesús Morales Bermúdez [chapter 3]. The role of the author in testimonio as well as the emergence of literatura indígena is the subject of chapter 4. Distinct differences between texts produced by indigenous and non-indigenous authors are explored via a reading of Javier Castellanos Martínez' Cantares de los vientos primerizos/Wila che be ze lhao: Novela zapoteca [chapter 5]. The final chapter examines four recent films/videos by indigenous and non-indigenous filmmakers: Día de muertos en la tierra de los murciélagos [K'in Santo ta Sotz'leb] by Pedro Daniel López López, the Chiapas Media Project's Zapata's Garden, Japón by Carlos Reygadas and John Sayles' Men with Guns. Based on the experiences of marginalized groups in other countries, I assert that visual media offer opportunities beyond those of the novel for a community-based approach to cultural production, but that the genre is still susceptible to many of the same pitfalls of indigenismo. The study concludes that recent literary and filmic texts reflect Mexican social reality, in which indigenous groups continue to struggle to define their identity in the face of continued inequality. Increased distribution and study of indigenous-authored texts is a path toward meaningful dialogue and progress on this front.
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  • Salgado, María Antonía
  • Open access

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