cover of book

Unwriting Maya Literature: Ts'íib as Recorded Knowledge
by Paul M. Worley and Rita M. Palacios
University of Arizona Press, 2019
eISBN: 978-0-8165-3987-1 | Paper: 978-0-8165-4848-4 | Cloth: 978-0-8165-3427-2
Library of Congress Classification F1435.3.A7W67 2019
Dewey Decimal Classification 897.427

Unwriting Maya Literature provides an important decolonial framework for reading Maya texts that builds on the work of Maya authors and intellectuals such as Q’anjob’al Gaspar Pedro González and Kaqchikel Irma Otzoy. Paul M. Worley and Rita M. Palacios privilege the Maya category ts’íib over constructions of the literary in order to reveal how Maya peoples themselves conceive of artistic creation. This offers a decolonial departure from theoretical approaches that remain situated within alphabetic Maya linguistic and literary creation.

As ts’íib refers to a broad range of artistic production from painted codices and textiles to works composed in Latin script as well as plastic arts, the authors argue that texts by contemporary Maya writers must be read as dialoguing with a multimodal Indigenous understanding of text. In other words, ts’íib is an alternative to understanding “writing” that does not stand in opposition to but rather fully encompasses alphabetic writing, placing it alongside and in dialogue with a number of other forms of recorded knowledge. This shift in focus allows for a critical reexamination of the role that weaving and bodily performance play in these literatures, as well as for a nuanced understanding of how Maya writers articulate decolonial Maya aesthetics in their works.

Unwriting Maya Literature places contemporary Maya literatures within a context situated in Indigenous ways of knowing and being. Through ts’íib, the authors propose an alternative to traditional analysis of Maya cultural production that allows critics, students, and admirers to respectfully interact with the texts and their authors. Unwriting Maya Literature offers critical praxis for understanding Mesoamerican works that encompass non-Western ways of reading and creating texts.
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