LACUSL Speaker Series: “From Translated to Self-Translating: Maya Voices in Contemporary Guatemalan Literature”

Tuesday, October 30, 2018
3:20 pm, AGSL, Golda Meir Library (3rd floor)
Dr. Amy Olen, Translation and Interpreting Studies, UWM
“From Translated to Self-Translating: Maya Voices in Contemporary Guatemalan Literature”

This presentation traces a genealogy of Maya voices in Guatemalan literature through several generations of Guatemalan cultural politics and identity from the mid-20th century to the present – from the beginning stages of the country’s 36-year armed conflict to the post-Peace Accords period beginning in 1996. We initiate our analysis with a discussion of Maya and Guatemalan identity as imagined in the seminal novel Hombres de maíz (1949) by Miguel Ángel Asturias. We follow this discussion with an analysis of the imaginaries of Maya voice and identity in Luis de Lión’s novel El tiempo principia en Xilbalbá (1985). Finally, we turn to post-conflict Maya writers Rosa Chávez and Daniel Caño to explore new discourses of Maya identity in bilingual, self-translated poetry. Using the lens of translation to guide our discussion, we will come to understand how discourses of Maya and Guatemalan identities transform over time according to the authors imagining them, and the political actors and movements contextualizing their creation.

Free and open to the public
For more information, contact César Ferreira ( and Sarah Davies-Córdova (

About our Speaker Series

This year’s LACUSL Speaker Series honors Professor Howard Handelman’s (UWM professor 1970-2006) lifelong contributions to learning and promoting the study of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The LACUSL Speaker Series brings together scholars, professionals, and students working in Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latinx Studies to discuss research, teaching, culture, current events, and other topics of interest to students, faculty, staff, and community members. The Speaker Series is interdisciplinary, and draws on the expertise of faculty and graduate students in the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the professional schools. All events are free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the major in Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latin@ Studies