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ERIC Number: EJ845056
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jul
Pages: 20
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 31
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0994
The Chicano Codex: Writing against Historical and Pedagogical Colonization
Baca, Damian
College English, v71 n6 p564-583 Jul 2009
In 1992, more than 20 artists showcased their work in a traveling exhibit, "Chicano Codex: Encountering Art of the Americas." Each piece creatively resembled Mesoamerican amoxtli, the pictographic "codex books" that were destroyed by European combatants as a strategy for subjugating indigenous minds. Spain's campaign of Christianization and the art of letters aimed to redefine and remap the Mesoamerican world under European-imposed categories. The consequences of this massive colonial operation were so brutal that some assume today that Western writing practices completely destroyed and replaced Mesoamerican pictography. Contemporary Chicano codex rhetorics subversively question the alleged superiority of Western writing traditions, while reminding everyone that Mesoamerican pictographs have been an important--although repressed--part of rhetorical history. In this article, the author analyzes the dialectic of oppositions and reversals in modern-day codex manuscripts, namely the 2000 "Codex Espangliensis: From Columbus to the Border Patrol," a mass-produced publication from Moving Parts Press. The author first describes the "Codex" itself, its textual structure, major characteristics, featured characters, and fractured narrative. The author then offers a rhetorical analysis of the manuscript's contrastive symbols and characters as they are inscribed against past and present colonial powers. The author's analysis aims to decipher strategies of resistance encoded in contemporary Chicana and Chicano cultural symbols. The author interprets such symbolization as a resistant rhetoric that addresses the larger backdrop of colonial subjugation and resistance in the Americas. Specifically, the author argues that codex rhetorics revise and displace the dominant historical narrative of cultural assimilation through continuous symbolic play with pairs, doubles, corresponding expressions, and twins. By fusing and embellishing Mesoamerican pictography into Western inscription practices, codex rhetorics promote a new dialectic, a new strategy of inventing and writing between worlds. This Chicana and Chicano dialectic works to overcome a hubristic historical and pedagogical colonization that disowns and suppresses the intellectual contributions of Mexican cultures, both ancient and new. (Contains 5 notes.)
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Mexico; Spain