Writing the Indigenous: Contemporary Mayan Literature in Chiapas, Mexico and Palestinian Literature in Israel
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This dissertation examines contemporary Mayan literature in Chiapas, Mexico (1983-2010) and Palestinian literature in Israel (1976-2010). It performs an understudied comparison between the literary traditions of two indigenous minorities emerging from the Global South and the Fourth World. This comparison is situated within the historical context of the Spanish Conquest of Mesoamerica in 1519-1524 and the establishment of Israel in 1948 as a Jewish state. Both events have created a rupture in Mayan and Palestinian histories and geographies, respectively, thus leading to the minoritization of these indigenous peoples. I study the literature of these indigenous minorities within the context of a geography of destruction, and simultaneously, continuous dispossession and a history of "rebirth." The overlapping histories of colonialism and nationalism, land struggle, as well as second-class citizenship, which manifests in exclusion, discrimination, racism and oppression of Mayans and Palestinians in the states of Mexico and Israel, respectively, are the grounds for comparison. While keeping in mind their different histories of minoritization and negotiation of indigenous citizenship in a socio-political reality of internal colonialism, this study seeks to understand how the literatures of these distinct groups articulate narratives and notions of indigeneity, difference, resistance, borders, hybridity, internal colonialism and contact zones, in order to identify the elements that inform the development of indigenous minority literature as `alternative texts'. Finally, this dissertation aims at contributing to the project of New Comparative Literature and World Literature. This conversation addresses an infrastructural problem and contribute to the project of New Comparative Literature, by creating a South-South dialogue between Middle Eastern and Latin American literatures, and thus foster communication among the immense heterogeneity of the subaltern cultures of the world. This dialogue also challenges the periphery-center binary that dominates paradigms of canonization in World Literature.
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