Photo # 1: Las Curanderas theater group and family sharing fillings and coffee at the Santa María de Jesús market. Photo # 2: With Las Curanderas theater group in their presentation in Xela, December 2018. This was the first time I was able to see their play "Fiesta Convite". This was the day we met. Photo # 3: With my parents at the international gastronomy fair of Nicaragua in Managua. Supporting my parents with their sale of plants and recycled art. Photo # 4: With my two of my committee members Dr. Christen Smith and Dr. Gloria González-López at LLILAS-Benson, Austin, Texas.
This is a visual ethnography project that combines creative writing, performance, photography, and other media in order to document and highlight Maya women’s artistic movement through theater and performance in Guatemala. The main objective is to create a platform that amplifies Maya women’s voices, so they can share their personal experiences and work toward emotional and social healing in a country heavily affected by multiple forms of violence.
This blog is a way to engage collaboratively with Maya Kaqchikel women’s theater groups that are seeking to transform social and interpersonal violence in Guatemala. I will be interacting with different theater groups and updating this blog with information about their artistic projects, social objectives, and life journeys. From what I have witnessed thus far, these groups seek to eradicate gender-based violence from an intersectional perspective—acknowledging that gender is tied to race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and religion—in a country with a long history of violence against Maya people.
The posts you read on this blog will be mainly written from my own perspective as an ally, researcher, and scholar who is deeply committed to social justice, especially gender-based violence in Central America. However, this platform centers Maya Kaqchikel women artists who are working toward social transformation and collective healing through theater and performance art.
The timeline for this multimedia project is from August 2019 to December 2019. It is made possible by the Texas A&M ConDev’s Student Media Grants. To learn more about the Student Media Grant, please visit: http://condevcenter.org/grantees/.
This blog is also part of my larger dissertation research project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships Program. I have been awarded a fellowship for the Summer 2019 and Academic Year 2019-2020, during which I will be conducting research on how Maya Kaqchikel women are using theater to explore their subjectivities and to denounce the multiple forms of violence in Guatemala. In addition, I will be learning the Maya Kaqchikel language simultaneously. Language plays a crucial role in culture and artistic expression as it is what feeds the soul. I seek to connect through visuals, language, and emotions.
I thank my academic mentor, Dr. Gloria González-López, who brings wisdom and light to my academic discomforts and annoying tendencies to overthink everything. She keeps me rooted and motivated. Thank you for showing me “the feminist ways of living.”
Thank you to my committee and LLILAS Benson staff, who have made this fieldwork possible. Thank you for your guidance and patience.
Thank you to all the Maya and Mestiza women artists and scholars who have open their hearts and chosen to collaborate to share their power, wisdom, and love. You are all the soul of this project and our referents for social, cultural and political transformation.
Thank you to Las Curanderas theater group team Magdalena Morales, María Telón Rojo, Angélica Telón, Medelyn Chávez, Rosalinda Chávez y Victor Barillas for inspiring these academic and artistic searches and for opening your hearts to spread out efforts towards collective healing.
Most of all, thank you to my family. To my mother, Daysi Patricia Ochoa, and my father José Modesto Guardado, for being the best research assistants. My work could never be possible without their wisdom, care, guidance, and support. I want to acknowledge their crucial role in my personal and academic life. In your own particular ways, you are both the pillars of this project.