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Hispanic Ecocriticism


Edited By José Manuel Marrero Henríquez

Hispanic Ecocriticism finds a rich soil in the main topics of environmental concern in the literature of Latin America and Spain, not only as a source for renewing critical analysis and hermeneutics, but also for the benefit of global environmental awareness. In a renewed exchange of transatlantic relationships, Hispanic Ecocriticism intermingles Latin American ecocritical issues of interest — the oil industry; contamination of forests and rivers; urban ecologies; African, Andean, and Amazonian biocultural ecosystems — with those of interest in Spain — animal rights and the ecological footprints of human activity in contemporary narratives of eco-science fiction, in dystopias, and in literature inspired by natural or rural landscapes that conceal ways of life and cultures in peril of extinction.

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Arturo Arias: Indigenous Knowledges and Ecological Thought: Jak’alteko Maya Victor Montejo’s Fables

Indigenous Knowledges and Ecological

Thought: Jak’alteko Maya Victor

Montejo’s Fables


Arturo Arias

Abstract: The Bird Who Cleans the World and Other Mayan Fables is, in the words of the Jak’alteko Maya writer Victor Montejo, “a testimony to the values of respect, unity and understanding that existed between the people and their natural and supernatural environment” (pp. 15–16). It is also a validation of “animal subjects” and their interaction with human subjects in an integrated eco-space where everything is a living subject. That is, people and animals, plants and springs, clouds and caves, light and wind, hills and valleys, stones and rivers, pots and griddles, crosses and roads, to rephrase Carlos Lenkersdorf, an ethnographer who worked and lived with the Tojolab’al Maya of Chiapas, Mexico. Montejo’s animal characters are also other-than-human persons, social beings participating in world-making relations among themselves and with humans, one that closes the divide between nature and culture. Montejo’s work evidences how traditional ecological knowledge is both highly localized and social. The focus is located on the web of relationships between humans, animal, plants, natural forces, spirits and landforms of his specific locality. These fables explain the web of relationships specific to a place and to a group of people, describing their ecosystem as a sensuous connection of knowing between humans and nonhumans, where the natural world is not simply passive. Elements are active agents that also embody ways of knowledge and participate in a negotiated order, which is also an affective and transformational mode of bodily knowing. Meaning thus results from a cultivated...

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