Event by The Bibliographical Society of America

In defense of “cognitive territories:” translation and typography as tools for self determination in Santa Fe de la Laguna, Michoacán (Mexico)

In defense of “cognitive territories:” translation and typography as tools for self determination in Santa Fe de la Laguna, Michoacán (Mexico)

Friday, February 12, 2021 at 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM (EST)
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As Mixe linguist and activist Yasnaya Aguilar Gil states, “A language is not just a linguistic system but also a cognitive territory where indigenous languages have been historically in conflict with the...state...As such, [we can’t] think of fighting for the vitality of our languages without fighting for the autonomy of our lands” (“La lengua no es cultura,” 2020). With autonomy and self-determination as its underlying principles, linguist and translator Sol Arechiga Mantilla founded hormiguero publishing which works with non-hegemonic languages, particularly indigenous languages in Mexico, as well as the tools of translation and typography that facilitate their publication and study. Drawing upon her experience facilitating Spanish-Purepecha translation workshops in Santa Fe de la Laguna, Michoacan, Arechiga Mantilla discusses how the development of specialized typography for indigenous languages is essential for preserving not only the languages themselves, but also the epistemologies and world visions that they embody and that are intimately tied to both their ancestral lands and present day territories.

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Sol Arechiga Mantilla is a linguist, translator, and editor based in Mexico City. She earned a BA in Hispanic Language and Literatures and studied at the Linguistics Master Program at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM). She founded hormiguero editorial in 2019, is currently a member of the independent publishing collective, Taller de Producci?n Editorial, and was a founding member, editor, and printer of the independent publishing house Gato Negro from 2007-2015. Her work includes editing numerous books on contemporary Latin American art and archives, contributing significantly to the grammar and vocabulary sections of the bilingual anthology of nahuatl oral tradition, Amapoualistle, by Magnus Pharao Hansen (Cuernavaca: FEEM, 2015), and translating works by the michi saagiig nishnaabeg writer, intellectual and artist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. From 2012-2013 she worked as language facilitator (me'phaa and Portuguese) at the grassroots university UNISUR in Guerrero, Mexico. Her most recent workshops generated translations of Spanish language comics into chatino from San Juan Quiahije (Oaxaca), hnanhu from El Valle del Mezquital (Hidalgo), and purepecha from Santa Fe de la Laguna (Michoacan). 

T-Kay Sangwand is a Certified Archivist who has worked extensively on preservation partnerships with cultural heritage and human rights organizations in the US, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. She is currently the Librarian for Digital Collection Development at UCLA where she manages the Library’s collaborations in Cuba; previously, she was the Archivist for the Human Rights Documentation Initiative and Librarian for Brazilian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a MLIS and MA in Latin American Studies from UCLA. In 2017 she was named a Fulbright Specialist in Library and Information Science and in 2018-2019 she was a Fulbright Scholar working with the federal Ministry of Culture in Mexico City. She is currently a 2020-2022 Rare Book School / Mellon Foundation Cultural Heritage Fellow. Outside the library, T-Kay has worked in community radio for nineteen years and occasionally DJs internationally in addition to hosting her monthly radio program The Archive of Feelings on Dublab Radio (LA). She currently volunteers with the LA Tenants Union as a Spanish/English interpreter and is committed to cultivating language justice practices within the union as well as within the information profession.


Event hosted by

The Bibliographical Society of America
67 West Street, Suite 401 Unit C17
Brooklyn, NY, 11222
Erin McGuirl, Executive Director

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