Omar Aguilar Sánchez
is a Mixtec researcher belonging to the Mixtec People or rather Ñuu Savi People (People or Nation of the Rain), one of the Indigenous Peoples of southern Mexico. He is an archaeologist at the National School of Anthropology and History (Mexico). Recipient of a special recognition (Honorific Mention) of the Prize “Alfonso Caso” of the Annual National INAH Awards 2016 for best Licenciatura dissertation in Archaeology. Currently, Aguilar is a PhD candidate in the Sustainable Humanities Program, Faculty of Archaeology and Faculty of Humanities, in Leiden University, The Netherlands.
Research Project and Participation in COLING-PROJECT
Aguilar´s PhD. research project is titled “Ñuu Savi: Decolonization, cultural continuity and re-appropriation of the cultural-historical heritage of the People of the Rain”. His research focuses on understanding the cultural values of the Ñuu Savi People (through time), linking past and present on the base of language and cultural continuity, by studying its cultural-historical heritage as a whole in communities of the Mixtec Highlands.
His research follows three axes: 1) Cultural continuity of the People of the Rain is undeniable and language is the primordial link to the past. 2) Through the study of language, oral literature, ceremonial discourses, rituals and the daily life it is possible to have a deep understanding of signs, concepts, scenes and themes contained in the pre-colonial pictorial manuscripts, the sacred landscape contained in colonial maps, the intrinsic meaning of the cultural material and even the function of pre-colonial sites. And 3) the importance of studying Indigenous heritage by themselves lies not only in the past but also in the present as it aids to recognize their past, strengthen their identity, and to re-value and protect their cultural heritage.
The contribution of Aguilar in this project is to emphasize that to achieve language revitalization within Indigenous Peoples in Mesoamerica is necessary the “reintegration of the cultural memory” as a whole, in line with the principles of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), a Post-colonial framework and decolonizing methodologies.
Aguilar has attended and give lectures in international congresses in America and Europe. Since 2014 he has also given lectures and workshops to the civil society, authorities and students of the communities of Ñuu Savi to disseminate his results as part of his commitment to his people, culture and language. Aguilar has published four academic articles in Spanish and one in English. He has collaborated in four Europeans projects, two with the Leiden University (The Netherlands) and two with the University of Warsaw (Poland).
The app “Codices Mixtecos” (now online and free download) was the original idea of Aguilar and it was developed along with Selena and Celina, all of them Mixtec researchers. This app is to read the pictorial manuscripts made by the Ñuu Savi People five centuries ago. The first version was developed in Sahan Savi (language of the Rain) and Spanish. “Códices Mixtecos” was developed to strengthen and support the revitalization of their own endangered language.