ABSTRACT

This chapter examines the intergenerational transmission of decolonizing and decolonial practices of self-translation as they have evolved from the performances staged by Spiderwoman Theater (Lisa Mayo and her sisters Gloria Miguel and Muriel Miguel), in Monique Mojica’s performances, focusing specifically on her Chocolate Woman Dreams the Milky Way (2011). Like her mother Gloria Miguel and her aunts, Mojica constructs theater as the auto/biographical, performative space of reclamation and transformation as well as resistance to being fixed in the position of the colonial other. These Indigenous artists’ decolonizing, embodied performances translate from narratives of domination to stories that are grounded in Indigenous knowledge, memory, and spirituality, in a deliberate attempt to move “beyond the victim story” (Mojica). In contrast to the traditional, hierarchical model of vertical translation as “con/version,” which implies the loss of Indigenous languages and assimilation to the dominant language of Western coloniality, these auto/biographical performances engage in producing “re/versions” (Godard) or “trans/versions,” that is, resistant, revisionist, recuperative horizontal translations that tell the story “across” while reinvigorating the performers’ linguistic and cultural identities. Occupying the space of the slash of colonial rupture, they nevertheless refuse to translate their difference by disengaging from the margin-to-center dynamics and thus escape entrapment within the discursive categories and frames imposed by the white settler-colonial state. Moreover, for Mojica, whose artistic practice privileges Indigenous aesthetics, the process of “dislodging of colonialism” from the body literally involves a re/version to the lost mother tongue, Kuna, as well as “epistemic delinking” (Mignolo) from Eurocentric paradigms of thought, including concepts of theater.