Council on Anthropology and Education
Oral Presentation Session
Even as a growing proportion of the Latinx community identifies as Indigenous young people from Latin America, dominant framings of transmigration continuously fail to recognize the complexity of these young people’s experiences and perpetuate damage through a collusion with colonial logics that erase Indigenous Latinxs and/or center the settler colonial state (Blackwell, Boj, and Urrieta, 2017). This paper challenges these dominant framings and explores how Maya Chuj youth created, found, and claimed spaces and understandings of decolonial belonging through resistance within and across settler colonial states and Indigenous nations. Drawing on data from an 18-month ethnography with Chuj youth organizers and educators in Guatemala and United States, this paper brings together Critical Latinx Indigeneities (Blackwell, Boj, and Urrieta, 2017) and decolonial feminist theories (Lugones, 2003, 2010), to consider how Chuj youth have worked to challenge and dismantle the contours of the settler colonial project from within and across nation states that are constantly working to eliminate them and “keep colonization alive” (Dhillon, 2017, p. 50).
Overall, I argue that Chuj youth developed a resistant framework of decolonial belonging within and in opposition to settler colonial states and across spaces of im/migration through organizing work with and alongside community elders and Maya ancestral leaders and youth across nations. Chuj youth refused to be erased and projected themselves into a decolonial Maya-centered future. As Xuwan, a youth organizer, explained, through organizing, “we create analyses for how we see the world around us, and where we are within this.”