Le Maya Q’atzij/Our Maya Word

Poetics of Resistance in Guatemala

2021
Author:

Emil’ Keme

Le Maya Q’atzij/Our Maya Word

Bringing to the fore the voices of Maya authors and what their poetry tells us about resistance, sovereignty, trauma, and regeneration


This innovative work employs Indigenous and decolonial theoretical frameworks to critically analyze poetic works written by ten contemporary Maya writers from five different Maya nations in Iximulew/Guatemala. It shows how Indigenous Maya poetics carries out various processes of decolonization and, especially, how Maya literature offers diverse and heterogeneous perspectives about what it means to be Maya in the contemporary world.

In 1954, Guatemala suffered a coup d’etat, resulting in a decades-long civil war. During this period, Indigenous Mayans were subject to displacement, disappearance, and extrajudicial killing. Within the context of the armed conflict and the postwar period in Guatemala, K’iche’ Maya scholar Emil’ Keme identifies three historical phases of Indigenous Maya literary insurgency in which Maya authors use poetry to dignify their distinct cultural, political, gender, sexual, and linguistic identities.

Le Maya Q’atzij / Our Maya Word employs Indigenous and decolonial theoretical frameworks to critically analyze poetic works written by ten contemporary Maya writers from five different Maya nations in Iximulew/Guatemala. Similar to other Maya authors throughout colonial history, these authors and their poetry criticize, in their own creative ways, the continuing colonial assaults to their existence by the nation-state. Throughout, Keme displays the decolonial potentialities and shortcomings proposed by each Maya writer, establishing a new and productive way of understanding Maya living realities and their emancipatory challenges in Iximulew/Guatemala.

This innovative work shows how Indigenous Maya poetics carries out various processes of decolonization and, especially, how Maya literature offers diverse and heterogeneous perspectives about what it means to be Maya in the contemporary world.

Le Maya Q’atzij/Our Maya Word

Emil’ Keme (a.k.a., Emilio del Valle Escalante) is an Indigenous K’iche’ Maya scholar and associate professor of Spanish at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is author of Maya Nationalisms and Postcolonial Challenges in Guatemala. In 2020, he was awarded Cuba’s Casa de las Américas literary criticism prize for the Spanish version of Le Maya Q’atzij / Our Maya Word.


Le Maya Q’atzij/Our Maya Word

Contents


Introduction: Iximulew’s/Guatemala’s Indigenous Poetry since 1960


1. Kaqchikel Maya Identity: Francisco Morales Santos and Luis de Lión


2. Strategic Essentialism against State Terrorism: Humberto Ak’abal, Victor Montejo, and Gaspar Pedro González


3. Xib’alba and Globalism: Rosa Chávez, Pablo García, and Sabino Esteban Francisco


4. Maya Feminism and Queer Poetics: Maya Cu and Manuel Tzoc


Conclusion: The Maya Word Will Never Die


Acknowledgments


Notes


Bibliography


Index