Writing and Thinking in the Time of a Pandemic

Versión en español.

I wrote this reflection a few weeks before the BLM protests broke out in the U.S. and completely forgot about posting. I am now sharing it with you, before more time passes.

It’s been a long time since I last posted and a lot has changed since then. Last time I posted I was in Southern California doing my academic thing, (re)connecting with colleagues, writers, students, and old friends. Right around that time, we started hearing about the first few cases of COVID-19 in the US, and I came back to Canada, monitoring every sniffle and headache (I had a sinus infection). Shortly after that, things started shutting down and I realized something very serious was happening. The first thing I worried about was my parents’ health: my dad is immunocompromised and that means they were already on high alert for infections. My worries only increased when I started thinking of family and friends outside of Canada and, like many others, I’ve had a tough time with it all. I realized that no matter what I do, mitigating exposure was not all up to me or any one person but all of us. So far, family and friends are doing okay, but the uncertainty is tough. After a brief paralysis, the uncertainty put my brain into high gear and since then I’ve been thinking about the things that I think I can control, i.e. my work. I should mention that I am extremely privileged to be able to continue working from home. I recognize that there are a lot of people out of work and I am incredibly grateful for those amazing individuals who put their lives at risk so that we may stay healthy, fed, and safe.

My writing has had ups and downs these past three months. From the start, I did not subscribe to the idea of taking advantage of the time in quarantine to produce brilliant work. I know myself well and I know what uncertainty does to me. Even then, this time is different because we’re facing it as a collective so when I think of the things I can control, it’s not just about me or my loved ones. I’ve been busy thinking through ethical ways of continuing work that is meaningful and full of personal connections because, as I see it, it’ll be a good long while before I go to a museum with a friend or come together with colleagues to share our work, let alone get on a plane to visit anyone in San Cristobal de las Casas or Guatemala City. And when I am able to do those things again, they won’t look the same. Many things should and will change. So, what do we do in the meantime? How do we keep doing research amidst a pandemic? How do we make sure that we’re both mindful of what is taking place and committed to the work we do? The first hurdle is one we clear because we recognize that this is a collective effort and we trust. We trust with all our might and do our part. The second hurdle, continuing our research in a time of pandemic, we navigate because, despite of and because of the pandemic, our work is important. (I won’t go into a defense of the humanities, the arts, or academia because a lot has been written on that, far better than I ever could. What I am addressing here has to do with Indigenous literary/cultural studies specifically.) Indigenous communities are being disproportionately affected by this global catastrophe and governments drop the charade and get to work, concerning themselves with those who matter to them (see the delivery of body bags instead of medical supplies to Indigenous communities in Manitoba in 2009 and in Seattle in 2020). Meanwhile, artists keep making art,[1] writers keep writing, weavers keep weaving, and makers keep making, all to reflect on their realities. And so, we too must continue writing. How we do it will be different, however, and more than ever, it will require an even greater commitment to uplifting the voices of those artists, writers, weavers, and makers.

For a while now, much of what I do has happened online. I often joke that I’m a Facebook scholar and, in fact, there’s a lot of truth to that. The biggest reason for that is that my research is entirely self-funded so I have to be pretty strategic about the work I do (I’ve talked about this before). Most of my communication with fellow scholars, writers, and artists happens on social media, where we’ve built important personal and professional relationships (case in point: Unwriting was written and revised in near real-time thanks to the power of FB Messenger). This requires a lot of trust on both ends of the social media equation, as well as respect and reciprocity. In the midst of a major global crisis, I realize that in some ways, other academics will be facing similar challenges (little to no funds, restricted travel, no in-person meetings). This is all to say that we can and should continue our work; we can and should continue nurturing those relationships. It will look and feel different and we will have to be more mindful than ever of our privilege.

One last thing: amidst this pandemic we received some great news. Unwriting Maya Literature received an honourary mention from the Mexico LASA Section Book Award for Best Book in the Humanities. The book came out almost a year ago and I can honestly say that I had no idea how it would be received. I did some of the revisions while I spent time in a hospital room waiting for my dad to come out of a post-lung transplant daze that lasted for months. In many ways, the book kept me grounded, but it’s all now a blur. I’m happy and very proud of how the book turned out, and I am very grateful to Paul who was an amazing co-author, cheerleader, and friend. Six years ago, I thought I was quitting academia. I always joke that I was tricked into staying, but maybe I was never really going anywhere. In retrospect, I may have been saying goodbye to my TT job, but not to the work that I loved. Once I decided to keep going with my research, I made a commitment to something and to someone; that someone are the many people who trust me with their work, who will think through ideas with me, answer my many questions, and believe me when I say that an article is in the works even though it will take an eternity to be published. I’m in it for the long haul, with a thousand projects in various stages of completion but with all the heart-brain energy I can muster.

Another piece of good news: we adopted Max, a terrier mix with energy for days.

[1] See Kent Monkman’s “Queen -Size Body Bag “ (2010) created in response to Health Canada’s body bag ‘mistake’ in 2009, which Monkman recently brought back in his social media page because “it’s happening again.”

Escribir y pensar(se) durante una pandemia

Escribí esta reflexión unas semanas antes de que las protestas en EEUU sobre BLM iniciaran y la dejé olvidada. La comparto ahora antes de que transcurra más tiempo.

Hace tiempo que escribí algo en este blog y mucho ha cambiando desde entonces. La última vez, me encontraba en el sur de California en lo mío, conectando con colegas, escritores, estudiantes y amigos. Justo entonces se empezaba a hablar de los primeros casos de COVID-19 en Estados Unidos y al regresar a Canadá, empecé a monitorear cada estornudo y cada dolor de cabeza (era una sinusitis). Poco tiempo después, todo empezó a cerrarse y me di cuenta que algo realmente estaba ocurriendo. Mi preocupación se tornó hacia la salud de mis papás: mi papá tiene un sistema inmunológico comprometido lo cual quiere decir que siempre está al tanto de cualquier tipo de infección. Luego me empecé a preocupar por mis familiares y amigos fuera de Canadá y, como para muchos otros, no ha sido nada fácil. Sé bien que no se trata de lo que yo por mi cuenta haga, mitigar la exposición al virus es un esfuerzo colectivo. Hasta ahora mi familia y amigos están bien, pero la incertidumbre es difícil. Después de una corta parálisis, la incertidumbre me hizo reaccionar y he estado pensando en las cosas que sí puedo controlar como mi trabajo. Debo reconocer contar con el privilegio de poder trabajar desde mi casa, mientras muchas otras personas han perdido sus empleos o arriesgan sus vidas día a día. Con estos últimos tenemos todos una gran deuda: gracias a ellos tenemos salud, comida y seguridad.

Mi trabajo ha tenido sus altibajos estos tres meses. Desde un principio no me apegué a la idea de aprovechar el tiempo en cuarentena para escribir y producir mi mejor obra. Me conozco bien y sé cómo manejo la incertidumbre. Aún así, esta incertidumbre es muy diferente ya que es compartida y no se trata únicamente de mí y de mis seres queridos sino de todos. He estado pensado en maneras éticas de continuar el trabajo que considero importante y para el cual tengo muchas conexiones personales porque sospecho pasará un largo tiempo antes de poder ir a museo con una amiga, compartir con colegas en una conferencia o viajar a San Cristóbal o a Ciudad e Guatemala. Y cuando pueda reanudar mis actividades no será igual, lucirán diferentes. La llamada y trillada normalidad ha de cambiar. ¿Qué hacemos mientras tanto? ¿Cómo continuamos nuestra labor académica en medio de una pandemia? ¿Cómo reconocemos lo que está sucediendo y a la vez continuamos nuestro compromiso con las personas y las ideas con que trabajamos? El primer obstáculo lo sobrepasamos porque es un esfuerzo colectivo y debemos de confiar. Confiamos con todo nuestro ser y ponemos de nuestra parte. El segundo obstáculo, continuar nuestra labor académica, lo enfrentamos a pesar y a causa de la pandemia porque esta labor es importante. (No es mi intención defender las humanidades, las artes o la academia porque mucho se ha escrito al respecto. Aquí me refiero específicamente al trabajo que realizamos en estudios literarios/culturales indígenas). Esta catástrofe global está afectado a las comunidades indígenas más que a nadie y los gobiernos de turno suspenden la farsa y se dedican a proteger solo a aquellos que les conviene (un buen ejemplo de esto en Canadá fue la entrega de bolsas de cadáveres en vez de suministros médicos a comunidades indígenas en Manitoba en 2009 y luego en Seattle este año). Mientras tanto los artistas continúan creando arte,[2] los escritores escribiendo, las tejedoras tejiendo, los hacedores haciendo, todo para reflexionar sobre sus realidades. Por ello debemos de seguir escribiendo. Cómo escribamos será diferente, requerirá un compromiso mayor con esos artistas, escritores, tejedoras y hacedores.

Desde hace tiempo, gran parte de mi trabajo lo hago en línea. Suelo bromear con ser académica tipo Facebook, pero de cierta manera hay mucha verdad en ese sentimiento. La razón principal es no tener apoyo financiero para realizar mi investigación y por ello he de ser sumamente estratégica en lo que hago. La mayoría de la comunicación con colegas, escritores y artistas sucede en las plataformas de medios sociales, en donde he logrado mantener relaciones personales y profesionales (por ejemplo, escribimos y editamos Unwriting en tiempo real gracias a los mensajes instantáneos de Facebook). Este tipo de conexión requiere muchísima confianza, respeto y reciprocidad de los dos lados de la pantalla. En medio de una crisis global, me doy cuenta que otros colegas van a toparse con obstáculos similares a los que vengo enfrentando por varios años ya (falta de fondos, restricciones de viaje, no reuniones presenciales). Digo todo esto porque es importante y necesario seguir con nuestra labor; debemos y tenemos que continuar cultivando y cuidando de esas relaciones tan importantes. Todo lucirá y tendrá otro feeling y quizás más que antes tendremos que tener muy presente el privilegio del que gozamos como académicos en Norte América.

Para terminar: en medio de esta pandemia, recibimos buenas noticias. Nuestro libro, Unwriting Maya Literature recibió una mención honorífica en el premio para mejor libro en las humanidades de la sección de México de LASA (Asociación de Estudios Latinoamericanos). El libro salió hace un año y puedo decir con toda sinceridad que no tenía la menor idea de cómo sería recibido. Parte de las revisiones las realicé en el hospital mientras esperaba que mi papá saliera de un sopor profundo que duró meses después de un trasplante de pulmón.  De cierta manera el libro me mantuvo anclada y centrada, pero ya no recuerdo esos instantes muy bien. Estoy muy contenta y orgullosa de cómo salió el libro y estoy muy agradecida con Paul, quien ha sido un co-autor, cómplice y amigo fenomenal. Hace seis años estaba por abandonar la profesión. Aunque siempre digo que varios colegas me sedujeron y me convencieron de no dejarlo todo, sospecho que todo fue parte del proceso de renunciar a un puesto específico, pero no al trabajo que tanto disfruto. Media vez decidí continuar con mi investigación, hice un compromiso con alguien y con algo: ese alguien son las muchas personas que confían en mi, piensan conmigo, responden mis miles de preguntas y me creen cuando les hablo del artículo que estoy escribiendo y tardará mucho tiempo en salir. El compromiso es a la larga, con miles de proyectos medio empezados y medio terminados, pero con toda la energía que reside en mi cerebro-corazón.

Otra buena noticia: adoptamos a Max, un cruce entre terrier y demonio de Tasmania.

[2] Un buen ejemplo es la obra de Kent Monkman “Queen-Size Body Bag“ Una bolsa para cadáveres tamaño queen (2010), creada como respuesta al error del ministerio de sanidad canadiense en el 2009, lo cual nos  lo recuerda Monkman en su página de Facebook porque “está sucediendo otra vez.”

A Follow-Up On Baring It All, Research, and Coaching

A few months ago, I decided to reflect on my journey (personal, professional, and everything in between) and I ended up writing a guest blog post for the Professor Is In. The timing was just right: a book I co-authored with Paul M. Worley had just come out, things had settled at work (no strike, no new preps!), my dad had stabilized after a few gruelling years of disease and then a lung transplant, and overall, things, though busy, felt manageable.

Did I mention I had a pretty awesome summer too? I went home to Guatemala to visit family and friends, and to present Unwriting.

The post I wrote didn’t come out right away, and so it stayed in the very back of my mind. It was not until it became public that I realized just how personal it was and I starting feeling overexposed, with a not insignificant desire to shut down and hide. But alas, there it was for the world to see, and comments, calls, and messages followed. The reception has been very positive and I am grateful to all those who have reached out. I won’t lie, I’m a little apprehensive as to how some colleagues may perceive it, but something I learned along this very windy road I’ve been on is that I have to shape my own narrative. I was getting pretty tired of having to explain myself and of having to put up with sneers at the mention of my non-TT career. I love my job, I have a great deal of respect for my colleagues, chair, and dean, and I like who I am where I am. I don’t expect the explanations or the sneering to go away, but things are clearer for me and I needed to say it aloud, for some reason.

This fall my school is actively thinking ways in which we faculty can engage in applied research more fully. This still leaves me out in the cold since that’s not the kind of research I do, but I appreciate that we’re talking about it. As I mentioned in that guest blog post, my chair has been nothing but supportive of my research—for instance, he found me help with the indexing of Unwriting Maya Literature and for that I am mega grateful. I confess, I don’t see myself taking on applied research. I’ve found my groove and, more importantly, I am deeply committed to the work I do and the people I work with. Perhaps I’m being closed-minded to the possibility of doing that kind of research, but so far, I just don’t see how I’d make it work. That, and taking on a new field/methodology/project would mean time away from current projects and from some pretty amazing people. With a heavy teaching load (5-5) it is hard to find the time to do the research I want to do given that it is not a job requirement; that means I have to be selective and very strategic about the work I choose to do.

In a few weeks I will be giving a brief talk on working at a Canadian institution for an online Academic Job Market Conference by Beyond the Professoriate. I’m not sure what I’ll be talking about, but I hope I can at least let others know that it is possible to veer off course (by circumstance or by choice) and still find a place where you can do meaningful work. The trick for me has been a balancing act: recognizing and respecting my priorities, and, if necessary, making sacrifices but only the ones I choose to make. I am aware that I speak from a place of privilege because I am able to make those choices, reflect, and course correct without taking devastating financial, personal, or professional hits. But one thing is certain: every decision (bad, good, and debatable) up to this point has been mine and that feels pretty good. For now, I’ll keep on trucking, thinking about things, writing, teaching, and staying quick on my feet for whatever life hurls my way.

A Couple of PSAs

Almost a decade ago, my dad was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a rare, incurable disease. In 2017 he received a lung transplant at Toronto General Hospital. The process was long and difficult but worth every wait (at the ER, doctor’s office, PT clinic, on the transplant list, in traffic etc.), every phone call, every setback. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of becoming an organ donor, so if you’re in Canada or anywhere else with an organ donation program, make sure you register. In Canada, you can easily do so online: https://www.beadonor.ca/

As for the two coaching services I mentioned, I think we tend to undervalue the importance of professional help, particularly in a career with processes as isolating as ours. Back when I was in the midst of quitting my TT job, the help of a coach from the University of Ottawa’s PD Institute was instrumental. Though I had strong support systems and a good professional network, the clarity that a third party brought to my experience was invaluable. Check out the Professor Is In and Beyond the Professoriate for academic coaching. They both have solid social media presences and are reputable (and no, I am not making a cent for singing their praises):

  • The Professor Is In is a coaching service for academics navigating tenure, promotion, and everything in between. It’s POC, queer, and women friendly.
  • Beyond the Professoriate is a counselling/coaching service geared primarly towards graduate students and newly-minted PhDs.

On Access, Publication, and Dialogue: A Quick Recap on the Making of Des-escribir

Hilo sobre la publicación de Des-escribir en español (Twitter)

Recently I posted about a small publication, a short essay, on Twitter and on Facebook in Spanish, but had not yet addressed it in English. Part of it has to do with the fact that the essay is written in Spanish, for a Spanish-speaking audience specifically, but I think it merits some reflection in English given that this is ‘a practice well worth considering,’ as Luz Lepe Lira noted in a wonderful shout-out during a panel about the self-translation of Indigenous texts during the third Conferencia Internacional sobre Literatura Centroamericana Contemporánea (CILCAC).

Scroll down or click for TL;DR version.

The background

Earlier this year, our book, Unwriting Maya Literature: Ts’íib as Recorded Knowledge (2019) came out and we had the privilege of presenting it at LASA in May 2019 alongside Gloria Chacón’s Indigenous Cosmolectics (2018), Arturo Arias’ Recovering Lost Footprints vols. 1 and 2 (2017 and 2018), and Luz Lepe Lira’s Relatos de la diferencia y literatura indígena (2018). Shortly after our star-studded panel, which included commentary by Dr. Robert Warrior, Paul and I talked about what it meant to publish in English and to take Unwriting to Guatemala in July and present it at FILGUA (Feria Internacional del Libro en Guatemala), one of Central America’s largest and most respected international book fairs. The book would not be available for purchase, though we would have fliers with discount codes at the ready for those interested thanks to the awesome marketing team at UAP. However, we recognized that the reality was different: we would speak about the book but very few people would purchase it let alone read it given the language of publication, its steep price, and the difficulty of shipping given Guatemala’s non-existent postal service. In many ways, presenting it in Guatemala felt like an empty gesture. We talked about depositing a copy at the Biblioteca Nacional but this, again, would only address access to the physical text but not the language issue. We began asking ourselves: why can’t we just summarize the main ideas in Spanish? Why not offer something easily accessible that can spark dialogue and allow our friends and colleagues whose ideas we engage with to read themselves and us?

The digital text

And so, we began writing a summary, which opened up with a reflection and self-critique on what it means to write in English about Maya literature, which is often written or translated into Spanish, the language that was forced upon the original peoples of Abiyala. We weren’t sure how it would be received, but we thought it was important to put it out there. The final text is twelve pages long, including a bibliography, all under a Creative Commons license so that it can be easily accessed and distributed. As a publication, it likely does not count in the North American academic promotion system. The ideas that make up the summary are peer-reviewed, insofar they derive directly from Unwriting. The reflection part is an unglamorous exercise in self-flagellation that may seem unbecoming to some, but that has struck a chord with others. Des-escribir la literatura maya: una propuesta desde el ts’íib is available on various platforms, so please feel free to download it and share it.

The artisanal text

As we revised the text and thought of how best to put it online, we began toying with the idea of a hardcopy, something we could distribute among those artists, friends, and colleagues who helped us and who would otherwise not be able to read Unwriting in English. We immediately thought of reaching out to poet-maker-artist Manuel Tzoc Bucup. Alongside Chilean artist Rodrigo Arenas-Carter, Tzoc Bucup runs Ediciones La maleta ilegal, a small independent editorial project based in Guatemala City. We chatted with Tzoc Bucup and got the ball rolling. He and Arenas-Carter would do a small run of Des-escribir before FILGUA, not under the label La maleta ilegal but as its own thing. The result was a beautiful handcrafted volume that is everything we had hoped for. Tzoc Bucup decided on the colour Maya blue for the cover and headings, yellow for the inside cover, and he carefully thought of the cover design, bouncing around the idea of maíz. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we had to quickly look elsewhere for an appropriate cover design.

Photo of Des-escribir (artisanal edition).
Des-escribir la literatura maya: Una propuesta desde el ts’íib (2019).

Finding Xaq

A week before we came to a standstill with Des-escribir, I had visited visual artist Marilyn Boror Bor. We had been exchanging DMs for a few months, and shortly after I arrived in Guatemala we finally had the chance to meet and chat in person. Her work is challenging, dealing with issues of memory, language, and racism from the perspective of a Maya woman who now resides and works in the capital. One of her works, Diccionario de los objetos olvidados (2016), a brilliant take on culture, language, and loss, plays with muted colours, objects of significance to Maya people, and the idea of a visual Kaqchikel-Spanish dictionary. As soon as we found out we needed an image, I thought of Marilyn’s Diccionario. I approached her, though with apprehension, because I knew we didn’t have a whole lot of funds to purchase the rights to an image (it’s worth mentioning that Des-escribir is entirely self-published and self-funded), and because we are also aware of the importance of remunerating someone, particularly an artist, for her work. We came to an agreement and were incredibly honoured to be able to use Xaq, an entry of her Diccionario consisting of an image of a piece of charcoal and its definition/translation: tizne (soot) and tizón (charcoal or a charred log). The examples of how the word is used really spoke to us and to our project:

Los niños están dibujando en las paredes con tizón. Rik’in ri xaq yekib’anala’ taq wachib’äl ri ak’wäla’ chuwäch ri jay. La olla que se trajo la señora tenía mucho tizne. K’o xaq chi rij ri b’ojo’y xutelej pe ri ixöq.

The children are drawing on the walls using charcoal. The pot that the lady brought had too much soot.

Marilyn Boror Bor. “Xaq” in Diccionario de los objetos olvidados. (2016).
Photo of page 23 of Des-escribir (artisanal edition), featuring image of Xaq.

Des-escribir o el mini-libro

Des-escribir had a very limited run, which was done for two reasons: 1. the text is readily available online as a PDF and 2. as we told everyone, every single copy of the print version “ya tiene nombre.” Those who received copies were people who had helped us out, who wanted to read themselves/us in Unwriting, but more importantly, people who would not otherwise have access to the methodology we propose. Interestingly, despite a PDF on multiple platforms, people who can readily access the English version (i.e., North American academics) wanted their own physical copy of Des-escribir. “No,” we said time and time again. We even wondered if we were being too guarded and ungenerous, and more than once turned to each other to confirm that the mini-libro was meant only for the artists, writers, makers, and friends who saw us through and do not read/speak English. All hardcopies are in the hands of those wonderful friends and co-conspirators, as they should be. Looking back now, I can say that we were also trying to flip the script and maybe even spark a conversation around issues of access. Overall, I think Des-escribir has been a good discussion starter, though the feedback has mostly come in the form of social media re-shares, thank-yous, and even silences. When we set out to write it, we just wanted to make sure there was something in a language other than English that others could sink their teeth into and not feel as though they had no business with it. But it soon became a reflection/self-critique, because we really had to think about what we were doing and what it meant. We have far to go, however. We would love to offer an entire translation of the book, but that is beyond anything we can do at the moment. Moving forward we will be more mindful of what and how we do it, particularly as it concerns multiple language barriers, power dynamics, and hierarchies. And we hope others take up the challenge and issue new ones.

Photo of initial pages of Des-escribir, artisanal edition. Bibliographic information and introductory note.

Final thoughts

We recently received a beautiful note from Ángelica Serech, a wonderful textile artist from Comalapa, letting us know that she had gotten her copy of Des-escribir and read it multiple times. I am deeply humbled that such a simple action on our part is resonating strongly with those who would otherwise not be able to access our book. I am also very proud that Des-escribir’s bibliography is made up of nearly 65% Indigenous authors. This we discovered while we waited for a shuttle to FILGUA that never came. The best part is that including all those Indigenous voices was not intentional when we set out to write it, but it actually reflects the methodology we propose and the praxis we strive for (for more on changing general citational practices in North America in other fields, see the hashtags #CiteHer, #CitePOC, #CiteBlackWomen, and #CiteWoC on Twitter). And, as I’ve said before, the work is only beginning and we hope others take up the challenge. Neither one of us is housed at big research institution, has fancy grants, or a whole lot of time (or money) for the work we do, but we do have meaningful connections to the people and places we work with. This is not a complaint (though it may be when I am saddled with five classes this coming semester) but an observation that I hope encourages other (Latin American) Indigenous Studies scholars to really think about what it means to do what we do from where we do it. We hope this is the start of a long overdue dialogue that not only addresses our research but also our practices. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

A clarification or TL;DR

Unwriting Maya Literature: Ts’íib as Recorded Knowledge (2019) is a full-length study, available for purchase at the University of Arizona Press. Here’s a handy 30% off discount code: AZFLR.

Des-escribir la literatura maya: Una propuesta desde el ts’íib (2019) is a short essay in Spanish that is both a reflection/self-critique and a summary of the main ideas in Unwriting. There are two editions: a sold-out artisanal edition and an open-access PDF.

Historias Podcast

A few weeks ago, Paul and I were guests on Historias, a podcast from the Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies (SECOLAS), where we had a chance to talk about our book, Unwriting Maya Literature, with the host, Steven Hyland. It was pretty fun though I was a nervous mess—and that was nothing compared to the day it was released when I seriously considered hiding under a rock for a few days. Eventually, I came around and made peace with my overly-critical inner monster who has severe bouts of imposter syndrome. And so I present to you Episode 53, available for your listening pleasure over at Historias:

Unwriting in Guatemala: Book presentations, conversations and other things

Next month, Paul (my co-author) and I will be travelling to Guatemala to present Unwriting at FILGUA (Feria Internacional del Libro en Guatemala), drop off a copy at the Biblioteca Nacional, participate in the III Conferencia Internacional sobre Literatura Centroamericana Contemporánea, and host a discussion on contemporary Maya literature with Rosa Chávez, Manuel Tzoc Bucup, and Luz Lepe Lira at the Guatemala Scholars Network annual conference. As you can imagine, we’re beyond excited to share our work, make connections, and start new projects. I actually swore I would not undertake anything new for a while but that lasted about a week. So, instead, I solemnly swear to be kind to myself and to really limit the work I do outside of my own research (and only after my work-work). In case you’re interested, below I’ve listed some of the things we’ll be doing in Guatemala. I’ll add to it as dates are confirmed but you can also follow me (@ProfRPalacios) and/or Paul (@Tsikbalichmaya) on Twitter to see what we’re up to.

Our Conference Circuit

  • “Nuevos acercamientos y perspectivas en torno al estudio de las literaturas indígenas contemporáneas.” New Approaches and Perspectives in the Study of Indigenous Literatures Guatemala Scholars Network Conference, Antigua, Guatemala. July 11-13.
  • Presentation of Unwriting Maya Literature: Ts’íib as Recorded Knowledge. Commentary by Irma Otzoy and Manuel Tzoc Bucup. FILGUA, Guatemala. July 15.
  • “La escritura pensada de otra manera: Ts’íib y el reto a la palabra escrita.” Writing Another Way: Ts’íib and a Challenge to the Written Word.  III Conferencia Internacional sobre Literatura Centroamericana Contemporánea: Literaturas Indígenas y Afrodescendientes. FILGUA, Guatemala, July 16-19.