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Gendering Land and Buen Vivir: Transnational Mayan Performance, Theater and Documentary Film


Gendering Land and Buen Vivir: Transnational Mayan Performance, Theater and Documentary Film addresses how the gendering of land in Latin America has fueled on-going practices of neocolonialism that reduce and devalue cultural and biodiversity. The multi-media archive analyzed in this dissertation enacts alternatives to, and expansions of, traditional gender expression thus disrupting aspects of hegemonic power. Furthermore, it explores how constructs of the gender binary have filtered into, and thus limited, supposed decolonial practices such as Buen Vivir.

The notion of Buen Vivir, which emerged from the Andean-Amazonian region, has since gained traction among native and indigenous communities in Mexico and Central America as an alternative to 20th century development proposals. Buen Vivir is the subject of academic debate given its varied interpretations across written theories, quotidian practices, and state policy. This dissertation suggests that collaborative cultural productions in the transnational Mayan context make community-based visions of Buen Vivir apprehensible, offering understandings that are often anchored in the land but also derived from the experiences of diasporic urban Mayan artists and activists.

Further pushing at the limits imposed by colonial rationale, this study engages with queer theory through the lens of Native studies and a queer of color critique. Focusing on both gender and race creates a more thorough interrogation of the internal workings of colonialism and sheds light on the current power structures of neoliberal capitalism. Lastly, by intersecting disciplines and drawing ties between works found across the Americas, this analysis contributes to expanding notions of decoloniality through contesting gendered renderings of colonial constructs.

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