The Department of Political Science at Amherst College, along with funding from the Lamont Fund, presents "Art as Territory: Maya Weavers Advocate for Collective Intellectual Property Rights in Guatemala."
This event is free and open to the public. The talk will be in Spanish with simultaneous translation for English speakers.
Speaker Angelina Aspuac is a Maya-Kaqchikel indigenous activist and lawyer committed to the defense of territory and self-determination. She is one of the founding leaders in the struggle for collective intellectual property rights in Guatemala, where Maya weavers are claiming authorship over the ancestral weaving of guipiles. Aspuac is a weaver and member of the National Movement of Women Weavers in Guatemala. She is the legal coordinator leading the advocacy strategy at AFEDES (Women’s Association for the Development of Sacatepéquez), representing Maya women in the highest courts of Guatemala. Prior to that, Aspuac was a consultant on indigenous peoples and related issues to the vice-president in 2007. She was the representative of Women Organizations at the Rural and Urban Development Council Systems from 2002 to 2006, and the general director at AFEDES from 2000 to 2006.
In this public lecture, Aspuac explains the political connotation of ancestral Maya textile art and tells the story of the Maya weavers who are challenging the state of Guatemala in the country's highest court.
Guatemala’s National Movement of Maya Weavers is pushing for the collective rights to intellectual property rights. They are pushing the state of Guatemala to safeguard their textile creations and the very fabric of Maya philosophy. In 2016, the women weavers filed a legal action before Guatemala’s Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of omitting rules that would protect Maya textile creations. Then they presented a new bill challenging the very concept of intellectual property rights. Aspuac, founder of the initiative, explains how textiles interact with broader patterns of Maya dispossession. According to Aspuac, “Textiles are part of our territories. To protect water and land is to protect our textile art ... they are our knowledge. Maya dispossession does not happen only through territory; it happens also through the dispossession of our ancestral knowledge."