Summer Abroad Mexico - Instructor

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Chiapas—Literary and Social Movements

Instructor Profile Image, UC Davis Summer Abroad Mexico

Inés Hernández - Ávila

Native American Studies

ighernandez@ucdavis.edu

Inés Hernández-Avila is a Professor of Native American Studies at UC Davis, a scholar, poet, and visual artist.  She is Nimipu (Nez Perce), enrolled on the Colville Reservation in Washington, and Tejana. She is one of founders of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA). She was a Co-Director of the UCD (Mellon funded) Social Justice Initiative (2013-2016).  Her most recent publication is Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art (University of Texas Press, February 2016), co-edited with Norma E. Cantú. Her research and teaching focus on contemporary indigenous literature, ancient Nahuatl and other indigenous philosophical traditions, and contemporary indigenous expressions of personal and collective autonomy and creativity in the service of social justice. In April 2017, she received the Frank Bonilla Public Intellectual Award from the Latino Studies section of the Latin American Studies Association.

A Message to Students and Parents

"I am excited to take students to San Cristobal de las Casas to become informed about the strong indigenous intellectual, cultural and social currents that are shaping Chiapas and the Mexican nation. I have been following the resurgence of Indigenous activism of Maya and Zoque peoples of Chiapas, an activism that continues the long legacy of creative, intellectual and activist work of Mesoamerica. I have traveled often to Chiapas, for formal gatherings, but also because of my research which has focused on contemporary indigenous literature and cultural/linguistic revitalization work in Chiapas. I know the individuals my students will be meeting. I am friends and colleagues with them. They always welcome me and my students with open arms. Through my documentary work, I have visited regional cultural centers in Oxchuc, San Juan Chamula, and Zinacantán. During one of my Summer Abroad courses, my students were invited to paint a mural at the cultural center in Zinacantán. The director and the staff still have happy memories of me and my students working with them to create a mural on the main stage of their cultural center. I love being in Chiapas, and I love introducing my students to the exciting work that Mayan and Zoque people are doing in Chiapas today."

What Students Are Saying

  • “Meeting indigenous scholars made for a truly inspirational experience, we learned concepts that are important to them that I will forever take with me in my heart.”
  • “I feel as I have a more open mind and have a whole world perspective that I know will help me academically.”
  • “It has inspired me to push the limits of my creativity. It has also helped me understand the many similarities and differences between indigenous peoples, cultures, and struggles in the North and South.”