University of Chicago Center for Latin American Studies

Chicago Archive of Indigenous Literatures of Latin America

Scope of the Archive

CAILLA provides a resource for historians of indigenous literary movements, for native or heritage speakers seeking to identify or obtain available materials, and for linguists, anthropologists, and others studying these languages. In addition to the usual classification by author and title, works are classified whenever possible by community, language, language family, genre, publication format, availability, etc. so as to serve the interests of these various groups. Crucially, works included in edited collections, literary magazines, or scholarly works have been individually indexed.

At the present time, the CAILLA seeks systematic coverage of contemporary literary materials written in the indigenous languages spoken in Mexico. Contemporary means materials produced after 1900. Some materials produced before 1900 are included but acquisition of these does not aim to be systematic, especially for colonial era documents. Literary means materials produced primarily for audience enjoyment, broadly construed. Although some pedagogical and reference materials are included (grammars, dictionaries, lesson books, etc.), this is done selectively. Written refers primarily to works produced and published locally in print form, but also includes some internet web postings and audio recordings intended for distribution to a popular audience. Works of verbal performance that have been recorded, transcribed, and/or disseminated by linguists or folklorists for scholarly purposes are also included for the value they provide in understanding the locally produced works. Indigenous languages spoken in Mexico are those native to the region prior to European contact. In some cases languages spoken along the borders with the United States, Guatemala, or Belice are included where historical relations makes this appropriate. Spanish language materials are included when they occur as part of bilingual editions, when they document the activities of a literary movement, or when a given work has helped shape local or national literary movements.

For indigenous languages actively taught at the University of Chicago (e.g., Yucatec Maya) the collection is more comprehensive both in time range and in the scope of the works collected and indexed. In some cases, digital audio recordings of works are available through the University of Chicago Language Laboratories and Archives.