UBC Theses and Dissertations
The indigenous voice : the expression of indigenous culture in the literary works of José María Arguedas, Vincent Eri, Witi Ihimaera and Particia Grace Taylor, Rita
What links the texts of José María Arguedas ("Los ríos profundos", 1958) , Vincent Eri ("The Crocodile", 1970), Witi Ihimaera ("Tangi", 1973) and Patricia Grace ("Mutuwhenua", 1978) together is their common goal of expressing indigenous culture from an 'inside' perspective in response to foreign interpretations. The purpose of this study is to investigate the problematic process of literary rendering of indigenous culture in its context of domination. In the Introduction, a theoretical framework is proposed within which the critiques of the individual texts are situated. Since the thematic content of these works is based on cultural and social conflict and the purpose of the study is to investigate the process of the aesthetic mediation of these conflicts, the critical theories drawn from are 'sociological'. Within this frame of reference basic questions referring to the relation of literature to ideology and the social function of literature are posed. The chapters dealing with the specific texts investigate how each author delineates the conflict of the dominating and dominated cultures, by what means an inner perspective of indigenous culture is rendered, how the problem of expressing indigenous culture in the language of the dominating culture is resolved, and how the aesthetic devices correspond with the proposed 'indigenous' or 'pro-indigenous' ideology. In the section on "Los ríos profundos", the text is briefly related to "indigenismo", both as a pro-indigenous movement and as a concept. Arguedas' delineation of the social and cultural contradictions of the Andean world and his methods of rendering indigenous culture from the 'inside' by integrating Quechua structures (language, music, mythology), and through the use of aesthetic devices (metaphor, image, symbol) are discussed. The chapter on "The Crocodile" focuses on Eri's rendering of the process of colonization whereby the colonized are divested of their cultural structures. This study again is based on how this process is rendered from 'inside' the indigenous perspective and how the aesthetic devices used by the author correspond with the indigenous viewpoint. In the chapter on "Tangi" and "Mutuwhenua", the relationship between the general concepts and process of "maoritanga" and the texts is drawn. Ihimaera's and Grace's methods of defining a maori cultural identity in the literary medium are discussed and the implications regarding their initiatives towards 'retrieving' culture are considered. In the Conclusion, the texts by the four authors are drawn into closer relation with one another. The findings of the study of their texts, with regard to how each author expresses the indigenous 'voice' and the ideological implications of their particular articulations, are summarized.
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