October 10, 2017
Ruperta Bautista Vázquez will be speaking at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23, at room 204, Gorecki Center, College of Saint Benedict as part of the Latino/Latin American Studies Fall 2017 Series.
Her speech, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Voicing the Silences: Indigenous Language, Poetry and Decolonization.”
Bautista is a Tsotsil Maya poet, playwright, anthropologist and educator. She grew up in San Cristóbal de las Casa, Chiapas, a southern Mexico state that borders Guatemala and the Pacific Ocean.
During her childhood, there were few indigenous people in her area. Many who were there chose the path of cultural erasure as a necessary survival strategy. But Bautista and her family continued to speak Tsotsil and maintained strong ties to the cultural practices of their Tsotsil community of Huixtán,
She was the only indigenous student in her elementary school, where she began privately writing poetry in Tsotsil as a way to minimize the pain of marginalization.
Bautista holds a degree in social anthropology at Autonomous University of Chiapas, a diploma in literary creation at the School of Writers of San Cristóbal, and another degree in indigenous rights and culture from the Center for Research and Higher Studies in Southeastern and Southeastern Anthropology.
She collaborated in the El Quijote polyglot project, translating part of “Cervantes” into Tsotsil in 2016.
As a poet, Bautista uses her ancestral language in ways that are contemporary and vital. As an activist and popular educator, she works with indigenous women and youth in literacy and Maya empowerment movements.
Her poems often hold themes regarding nature, poverty and inequality. Some of her books of poetry include “Vivencias,” “Eclipse in Mother Earth” and Xojobal Jalob Te” (Telar Luminario/Luminiscent Loom).
Bautista has also authored or coauthored five books, including “Word Conjured: Five Voices; Five Cantos.”
The Latino/Latin American Studies Fall 2017 Series, with its theme “Indigenous Cultures and Colonial Legacies in the Americas,” concludes Nov. 14 with a presentation from agricultural expert Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin.