Zapatista Maya Literacies and Decolonial Civic Pedagogies

Juan Moisés García Rentería, University of Texas at El Paso


Zapatista Maya Literacies and Decolonial Civic Pedagogies evaluates an educational outreach project led by an Indigenous grass roots mobilization in the high plateau of central México, the Zapatista movement. Using retrospective narrative inquiry and theoretically informed perspectives, this dissertation shows that the program of the Zapatista escuelita, Spanish for “little school,” is rooted in the Maya educational paradigm of nojptesel-p’ijubtasel, a cultural and political process of socialization at the heart of contemporary Maya peasant families. The research focus of this study offers rhetoric, composition, and literacy studies two interrelated points of insight tied to the overall Maya conception of the conch shell, “puy”: first, a theoretical study ascribing to the Zapatista the conceptions of “k’op,” “language-struggle,” and “ts’ib,” “writing-plowing,” which represent alternative notions of literate activity understanding reading and writing as distributed and embodied modes of “bringing into being” dignified coexistence. Second, a concrete instructional model that stresses a political way of being in the world by situating students within the symbolic distribution of a council, a temporal and spatial dimension of encounter, dialogue, and accord where they are called to adopt a public (inter)subjectivity through mutual respect and recognition. This research responds directly to the call of contemporary Maya scholar-activists to decolonize cross-cultural power relations and to (re)create socially and culturally sustainable models of education and civic engagement. To that effect, the dissertation enacts a research methodology responsive to Maya culture both in continuity with their ancient inscription traditions and as a present possibility for recomposing colonizing power structures.

Subject Area

Rhetoric|Multicultural Education|Latin American Studies|Native American studies

Recommended Citation

García Rentería, Juan Moisés, "Zapatista Maya Literacies and Decolonial Civic Pedagogies" (2022). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI29168156.