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Provost's Imagine Fund for Arts and Humanities

Iajki Estados Onidos / She Went to the U.S.: Nahua Identities in Migration within Contemporary Nahua Literature, 1985-2015

In this, my first book manuscript, I analyze contemporary Nahua literature from 1985 to 2015. Nahuatl, popularly known as the language of the Mexica or Aztecs, is often relegated to a distant past, and many are unaware that today there are over three million Nahuas (a term generally used to refer to people who speak the language). Studies of contemporary Nahua literature are sparse—despite an abundance of texts—and this reflects the tendency to place them in a distant past away from present-day cultural production. In my project, I seek to help remedy this situation by exploring how contemporary Nahua texts disarticulate the Mexican national narrative frame of “vanquished Indians.”

Nahua authors of the last three decades, though differing significantly in their literary styles and political strategies, complement one another in attempting to uproot the national narrative that reduces their ethical perspectives to exotic folklore. They employ metaphors closely tied to their language in order to rewrite the official history that has marginalized Nahua worldviews. By doing so, they seek to open a space for alternative knowledges. These relate principally to a deep connectedness with natural surroundings, remembrance of ancestors’ philosophies, and an affective intelligence in which emotions are conjugated with cognition. I argue that such worldviews play a key role in a dynamic politics of identities for the empowerment and self-representation of Nahua communities within the nation-state.

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