Jennifer Gómez Menjívar (University of North Texas)
Fellow in Research Area 5: "Building Digital Communities"
From Artisans to Artists: Cyberspace and the Movement for Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights
Jennifer Gómez Menjívar's project dialogues with questions of media convergence and Indigenous sovereignty. Her work has implications for research on Indigenous intellectual property worldwide.
Gómez Menjívar's research examines the Mayan weaving practices that have become globally recognized for their intricacy and aesthetic value. Deepening the theories developed in Indigenous Interfaces: Spaces, Technology and Social Networks in Mexico and Central America (University of Arizona Press, 2019), she conceptualizes the media and socio-cultural landscape of Guatemala in 1996 and thereafter. She argues that as the country intensified its investment into tourism after the signing of the Peace Accords that year, infrastructure for the expansion of the information superhighway into Guatemala was likewise established.
Mayan weaving practices have been a means of encoding knowledge in a medium that is much more than fabric for thousands of years. However, the iconography central to this millenary tradition crossed more borders than ever before in the twenty-first century.
Importantly, the designs were not confined to the homes of buyers and collectors, but rather increasingly seen on fashion runways and even in department stores. Defying narratives of Indigenous peoples as victims in the continuing plot of settler colonialism and extraction of resources and knowledge, her work highlights their survivance and their challenge to intellectual property theft in Guatemalan Congress and in cyberspace.
Jennifer Gómez Menjívar holds a Ph.D. in Latin American Cultural Studies from The Ohio State University, and her scholarly training is in the production, circulation, and reception of texts, from traditional print to contemporary digital. For the last several years, her research has been concerned with how Indigenous and Black communities use new media to challenge the typical discussions of minority communities as disenfranchised and powerless. Her articles have appeared in many scholarly journals, and her books include Tropical Tongues: Language Ideologies, Endangerment, and Minority Languages in Belize (University of North Carolina Press, 2018) and the co-edited anthology, Indigenous Interfaces Spaces, Technology, and Social Networks in Mexico and Central America (University of Arizona Press, 2019). Her forthcoming volumes are Hemispheric Blackness and the Exigencies of Accountability (University of Pittsburgh Press) and Améfrica in Letters: Literary Interventions from Mexico to the Southern Cone (Vanderbilt University Press).