Margaret Kovach

Professor

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2021)
In ixtli in yollotl - a pedagogy of belonging : cultivating radical imaginaries for Indigenous queer futures (2021)

Nahua cosmology teaches us we are made of corn. As one of the strongest and most adaptable plants, corn has gifted many varieties and colours, but the voracious consumption needs of modern anthropocentric societies require monocultures of yellow sameness to control people through commodification and capitalism. For Nahua Temachtiani (teacher) Santos de la Cruz Hernández, the disrespect of the plant for modern purposes has come at a big price and the many colours of corn are now gone; Chicomexochitl (native corn) is no longer here (2019). Decolonial scholar Vanessa Andreotti interprets a similar situation by utilizing the spread of yellow corn as a metaphor for an education that presumes dominant worldviews as the only possibility for progress, development and evolution. The “myth of the yellow corn” (Andreotti et al., 2017) refers to imposed limitations by coloniality/modernity that strive towards sameness following anthropocentric views of belonging. The present thesis explores radical imaginaries to bring back the colours of Chicomexochitl by using an analytical framework grounded on Nahua knowledge systems that oppose the sameness of “yellow corn”. As this study is situated in the context of Mexico, central to my analysis is an examination of the oppressive national agenda of mestizaje. I use yellow corn as a metaphor for analytically framing mestizaje as a hegemonic ideology that promotes white supremacy and masculine superiority. I use stories as method of analysis to examine identities mestizaje has left at the borders and margins, those that deviate from colonial formations of masculinity and whiteness. The goal of the thesis is to introduce a pedagogy that honours the ideal purpose of Nahua education: to find in ixtli in yóllotl (face and heart). A search for one’s true colours by belonging to one’s self, community and land. Returning to Nahua education follows non-anthropocentric views that center land as the most important entity. I introduce a pedagogy of belonging centred on the resurgence of Indigenous knowledge systems, as a way to set forth a transformative (un)learning journey that opposes the dominance of mestizaje by cultivating collective healing and belonging, critical for Indigenous queer futures.

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