Decolonisation, Research and Indigenous Peoples Today Hui

Professor Arturo Arias
Monday, March 11, 2013

Universities can be a difficult location for Indigenous researchers who face a system that honours print more than oral traditions and rewards those who play it safe more than those who are honest in speaking the truth to power. Over time, Indigenous research can become more institutionalised and less connected to the communities who should benefit from this research, especially when colonialist narratives are replaced with others that are left unchallenged. Second language learners of Indigenous languages also face the difficulty of relying on stock phrases when native speakers have full command of the subtleties of the languages spoken.

This workshop offer researchers a space for reflection on the history of decolonisation with specific local examples from various parts of the world and among different types of Indigenous peoples working with their own communities and with non-Indigenous groups. The focus is on the leadership that Indigenous have provided in moving their mixed communities toward self-determination through healing, mobilisation, transformation, development and decolonisation in its varied phases, languages, traditions and waves with always unanticipated outcomes.

Arturo Arias is Professor of Latin American Literature, University of Texas. He is a Mestizo (of Maya and Spanish ancestry) creative writer and specialist in critical theory whose contributions to Maya culture are recognised by their claiming him as one of their own. He is a well-known expert on Central American literature, with a special emphasis on Indigenous literature, as well as critical theory, race, gender and sexuality in postcolonial studies. He co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for the film El Norte (1984), and edited The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy (2000). Having published six novels in Spanish, with two Casa de las Americas Awards, he was also winner of the Ana Seghers Award for fiction in Germany, and the Miguel Angel Asturias National Award (2008) for Lifetime Achievement in Literature in his native Guatemala. He is a former President of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA).