restricted access Chapter 1. “Never Any Other Time but This Time No World but This World,” or Staging Indigeneity in Neoliberal Times
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25 Chapter 1 “Never Any Other Time but This Time No World but This World,” or Staging Indigeneity in Neoliberal Times Unlike the chapters that follow, this one does not center on a single event or phenomena, such as the rise of femicides, the Balseros Crisis, or the recent Mexican narcoguerra. Rather, it traces creative responses to a hemispheric (and global) shift in political possibilities: the fall of socialism, the end of a series of leftist radical revolutionary movements in Central America, and the emergence of widespread neoliberal economic practices, including but not limited to the ratification of NAFTA. I suggest that it is through the exploration of indigenous subjectivities, practices, and cosmologies, many inspired by the Chiapas uprising in 1994, that these playwrights rethink the possibilities of social change in the midst of the demise of global socialism. I position Latinx engagements with indigenous practices, indigenismo, and nonliberal modes of political action from the 1990s to the present as different from these earlier periods in significant ways, although they struggle with many of the same conundrums. I begin this journey by confronting the formal and political difficulties Cherríe Moraga has representing indigenous people onstage in the United States as she develops her political critiques; I then examine how Moraga theorizes indigenous practices, cosmologies, epistemologies , and solidarities as a mode of combatting neoliberalism within a theatrical register, undoing linear time and secular temporality, ultimately by engaging a mode of decolonial thinking that interrogates the frame of theater even as she uses it. A major aspect of her theatrical challenge is a dramaturgical one: the challenge to the dominance of the liberal subject of tragedy. While this chapter is largely dedicated to Moraga’s intellectual and aesthetic development, I also engage El Teatro Campesino’s recent works and Michael John Garcés’s sorely underrated points of departure (2005).1 Garc és and El Teatro Campesino’s works also move away from individuation and individual rights within their political dramas. All of these authors move away from traditional progressive time and its dramaturgical equivalent—­ Freytag’s model of plot structure and dramatic action which depends on 26 Chapter 1 a concept of exposition, rising action, climax, and conclusion—­ deploying alternative structures that engage recursive nonlinear modes of dramaturgical movement. In short, they ask their audiences to move differently. I consider their revision of dramaturgical structures as a mode of rethinking neoliberal subjectivity through exposing injury and, simultaneously, offering a way to the future. This exploration necessitates a brief historical précis of Mexican indigenismo, Chicano/a cultural nationalism (including the theater that was a part of those movements), and indigenous activism in the Americas over the last twenty years, the latter of which has engaged decolonial thinking from both inside and outside of indigenous communities. Indigenismo and Indigenous Activism in the Americas Twentieth-​century Mexican indigenismo was a movement that valorized Mexico’s Indian past as part of the national postrevolutionary project to create a distinctly Mexican identity that drew on its distinctive mestizo culture composed of indigenous and European roots. In the ’30s and ’40s cultural producers were inducted by the state to create art with indigenous iconography to foment cultural pride and identity based on the distinctiveness of indigenous roots. These artworks were often created hand in hand with state-​ sponsored development projects designed to acculturate various indigenous groups by asking them to learn Spanish and participate in various forms of assimilation to mestizo culture at odds with their cultural and spiritual practices . In the 1960s, Mexican citizens launched a fierce critique of this form of valorization of the indigenous (primarily Aztec and Mayan) past because romanticization of indigenous roots and cultural programs had changed nothing economically for living indigenous people. Despite modernization, many indigenous and poor mestizo citizens did not have access to potable water or other fundamental necessities.2 Concerns about these inequalities also fueled the Zapatista uprising in 1994, whose adherents pointed to these ongoing disparities as part of their critique of NAFTA. The Zapatistas, while largely comprised of indigenous citizens, strategically used some of the very nationalistic discourses their presence brought into question, reformulating the relationship of indigeneity to nationhood. They called the state on its hypocrisy and exposed the bad faith of Mexican nationalism, which undervalued contemporary indigenous cultures and ignored indigenous reality in its quest to make itself “modern.”3 In the United States,Chicano/a cultural nationalism emerged in the 1960s as a movement against U.S. assimilationist paradigms of belonging...


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