Arturo Arias: Recovering Lost Footprints: The New Mayan Narrators

Wed, Sep 18, 2019, 12:00 pm

Arturo Arias

Recovering Lost Footprints will trace the key characteristics of the new and recent fiction by Mayan authors in Central America, the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas, highlighting their epistemic dimensions and ontological implications. These narratives, written in both the authors’ native languages and their Spanish translation, are primarily organized around racialization, an end-result of the Spanish invasion, and they therefore dramatize how indigenous bodies were disciplined, how they were treated as commodities to be bought and sold, and how these issues have spilled into political life, both in the past and in the future. At the same time, they demonstrate how, despite having absorbed a degree of Westernization and becoming empowered by educational gains, they have yet never renounced their spiritual and communitarian practice, instrumentalizing them ethically to improve social conditions and decolonize nature through new practices of non-anthropomorphic affect.

Arturo Arias (Ph.D., Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales). John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Professor in the Humanities, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at the University of California, Merced. Arias has held positions at the University of Texas at Austin, University of Auckland, University of Oregon, Tulane University, and Stanford University. His research interests include contemporary Indigenous literatures, cultures, and ontologies; Central American-American Studies, a field originally theorized by Arias, which now constitutes a part of Latinx Cultural Studies; and Latin American decolonial studies. He has published Recovering Lost Footprints: Contemporary Maya Narratives. Volumes 1 (2017), and 2 (2018), Taking their Word: Literature and the Signs of Central America (2007), and The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy (2000), among other academic books. Twice winner of the Casa de las Americas Award, and winner of the Anna Seghers Award for fiction in Germany, he received the Miguel Angel Asturias National Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature in 2008 in his native Guatemala. Arias’s current research project consists of three volumes of Recovering Lost Footprints, the first full-length critical study to analyze Latin American Indigenous literary narratives in a systematic manner. While at Princeton, Arias will be writing volume 3 of Recovering Lost Footprints. This monograph will feature non-Maya Mexican Indigenous novelists, such as Zapoteco authors Javier Castellanos, Mario Molina Cruz, and Víctor Cata, Nahua fiction writer Crispín Amador Ramírez, P’urhepecha novelist Ismael García Marcelino, Rarámuri short story writer Patricio Parra, and Wixárika cuentista Gabriel Pacheco, among others.

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch provided.

216 Burr Hall