Sometimes unwittingly academic trends, disciplinary isolation, and narratives of nation-building have contributed to the exclusion of native voices from the literary and cultural history of Mexico. Literary anthologies mention the "great pre-Colombian civilizations," discussing the Popul Vuh and Aztec codexes, and ethnohistorians over the last thirty-some years have shed new light on indigenous intellectual work in the first centuries of the Colonial Period. But less is heard from indigenous people after this. Did they progressively cease to think, speak, and write poetically, abstractly, or philosophically after conquest? My dissertation discusses how Nahuas, heirs to one of the most widely spoken and best-documented indigenous language in Mexico (Nahuatl), have indeed continued to work as intellectuals. However, as needs of specific communities changed, so did the role of the intellectual along with the genres, forums, tools, and discursive codes he/she used. To demonstrate these shifts, I trace four Nahua intellectuals over a period of nearly five hundred years, dipping into distinct historical time periods that markedly affected indigenous intellectual work. I begin with Nahua and Jesuit priest Antonio del Rincón, the first indigenous person in the Americas to write a grammar of his own native language, Arte mexicana (1595). Next, I discuss the rhetoric of nation-building during the nineteenth century, including the disappearance of indigenous people in the discourses of citizenship through the work of Faustino Galicia Chimalpopoca, Nahua politician, attorney, scholar of colonial Nahuatl texts, and Nahuatl teacher to Emperor Maximilian I. Moving to the early twentieth century, I highlight discourses of Social Darwinism manifested in the nation's resolve to deal with the "Indian problem" as read in the testimony of Doña Luz Jimenez, specifically her experience with assimilative schooling. Finally, I explore bilingual education in Mexico and the co-optation of indigenous peoples to promote assimilation in the latter half of the twentieth century. I focus on Ildefonso Maya Hernández's play Ixtlamatinij and a series of interviews with the author. In a move to reconnect the theorization with the people being theorized, I also read the texts in focus groups with Nahuas, some encountering their own cultural patrimony for the first time.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2010. Major: Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Linguistics. Advisor: Nicholas Spadaccini. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 242 pages.
McDonough, Kelly Shannon.
Indigenous experience in Mexico: readings in the Nahua intellectual tradition..
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