Pivot 2021 Virtual Conference July 22-23 2021
Dismantling Reassembling - tools for alternative futures

Sjalel Lekil Kuxlejal: Mayan Weaving and Zapatista in Design Research

Situated in the highlands of Chiapas, southeast Mexico, this research seeks to contribute to decolonising textile artisanal design and the recognition of Indigenous design alongside Mayan Tsotsil and Tseltal weavers in search of a fair-dignified life, Lekil Kuxlejal. Using textiles as sources of rich knowledge and research metaphor, a woven methodological approach is developed by interlacing decolonial theory and design from the Global South. Furthermore, drawing from Indigenous onto-epistemologies such as corazonar, Zapatismo and Buen Vivir (good living, collective well-being), this study presents a new approach to textiles as resistance combined with Mayan cosmovision, and is in alignment with the autonomía of the independent collective Malacate Taller Experimental Textil. For this reason, the Zapatista principles of Mandar Obedeciendo (Leading by Obeying) have been used as research guidelines, and are intertwined with the corazón (heart) leading the way. The presence of the heart is active in past and present Mayan worldviews, language, textile knowledge and practice, and is connected to Zapatista ideology to sjalel (weave) Lekil Kuxlejal, a contribution to the pluriverse.

Weaving; Mayan; Textiles; Zapatismo

About Diana Albarrán González

Dr Diana Albarrán González is a Native Latin American researcher from Mexico, a mestiza of Nahua and P’urhepecha descent seeking to decolonise her own subjectivities and (re)connect with Indigeneity. Currently, she is teaching and researching in the Creative Arts and Industry faculty at the University of Auckland in Aotearoa, New Zealand. She graduated from the Māori and Indigenous faculty at Auckland University of Technology where her PhD thesis focused on the decolonisation of design in collaboration with Mayan weavers from Chiapas, Mexico, her birthplace. She proposed a Buen Vivir-Centric Design model towards a fair-dignified life, based on collective well-being, textiles, crafts-design-arts, embodiment and creativity. Diana has more than 18 years of experience in New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Spain and Mexico applying, re-learning, researching and teaching design. This has given her the ability to address challenges in a variety of contexts, and the opportunity to develop a meaningful sense of culture and diversity awareness and sensitivity. She is a craftivist, a mother and an active member of the Latin American community seeking to contribute to women’s and families’ well-being through connections to our own cultural roots.

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