Written, oral, and physical resistance during the colonial period

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Viviana Diaz-Balsera - Committee Chair


My study re-examines concepts that define Guarani subjectivity, and in this endeavor I avail myself of different texts that inscribe moments of Indian resistance within the colonial period. Three such forms of resistance are identified. The first is written and originates with the mimicry of writing technology. The second manner of resistance entails a practice very much associated with Guarani culture: orality. Lastly, my study considers acting as a mode of resistance. This is the most visible and certainly the most categorical because it involves audacious acts that question the efficacy of colonial discourse. The first chapter focuses on the cacique's depiction in colonial discourse. A portrait emerges of the Guarani cacique as a liminal and bicultural figure whose influence was recognized as essential to the realization of the colonial enterprise. This first chapter also examines passages of a Guarani language text by cacique Nicolas Yapuguay in which he subtly establishes continuity with ancient customs and beliefs. Thus, writing becomes a tool of resistance. The second chapter examines the paye, a Guarani shaman figure who is portrayed in colonial texts as having a steadfast desire to protect Guarani religious-cultural integrity. It is concluded that the paye's power resides in orality, which he uses to oppose new religious teachings. The third chapter examines collective, as well as individual, resistance to the preeminence of colonial discourse. Such rebellious acts range from armed battle to suicide. Also, in this chapter, I offer a brief analysis of statistics indicating that present-day Guarani Indians register the highest index of suicide among Paraguay's rural towns, leading to the conclusion that suicide persists as an act of resistance among the Guarani. In my work, the Guarani are recognized as active participants in the construction of their own History. It becomes clear that their culture's deep-seated religious character frames resistance within the colonial period.


Literature, Latin American; History, Latin American

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