In Ixtli In Yollotl/A (Wise) Face A (Wise) Heart: Reclaiming Embodied Rhetorical Traditions of Anahuac and Tawantinsuyu
Ri?os, Gabriela Raquel
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Theories of writing are one of the fundamental ways by which Indigenous peoples have been labeled as "uncivilized." In these discussions, writing becomes synonymous with history, literacy, and often times Truth. As such, scholars studying Nahua codices and Andean khipu sometimes juxtapose the two because together they present a break in an evolutionary theory of writing systems that links alphabetic script with the construction of "complex civilizations." Contemporary scholars tend to offer an "inclusive" approach to the study of Latin American histories through challenging exclusive definitions of writing. These definitions are always informed and limited by language-the extent to which these "writing" systems represent language. However, recentering discussions of writing and language on what Gregory Cajete has called Native Science shifts the discussion to matters of ecology in a way that intersects with current scholarship in bicocultural diversity studies regarding the link between language, culture, and biodiversity. Because of the ways in which language configures rhetoric and writing studies, a shift in understanding how language emerges bears great impact on how we understand not only the histories tied to codices and khipu but also how they function as epistemologies. In my dissertation, I build a model of relationality using Indigenous and decolonial methodologies alongside the Nahua concept of in ixtli in yollotl (a wise face/a wise heart) and embodied rhetorics. The model I construct here offers a path for understanding "traditional" knowledges as fluid and mobile. I specifically look at the relationship between land, bodies, language, and Native Science functions on the reciprocal relationship between those three components in making meaning. I then extend this argument to show how the complex web of relations that we might call biocultural diversity produces and is produced by "things" like images from codices and khipu that in turn help to (re)produce biocultural diversity. Thing theory, in emerging material culture studies, argues for the agency of cultural artifacts in the making of various realities. These "things" always-already bear a relationship to bodies and "nature." Thing theory, then, can challenge us to see artifacts like khipu and Nahua images as language artifacts and help us connect Nahua images and khipu to language outside of a text-based model. Ultimately, I argue that Native Science asks us to see language as a practice connected to biocultural diversity.