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Emil' KemeProfessor of English and Indigenous studies


Emil’ Keme (aka Emilio del Valle Escalante) is an Indigenous K’iche’ Maya scholar from Iximulew (Land of Corn, and the K’iche’ name for Guatemala), and professor of English and Indigenous studies at Emory University. He is a first-generation college graduate. His teaching and research focus on contemporary Indigenous literatures and social movements, Central American-American literatures and cultures, and postcolonial and subaltern studies theory.

Keme is the author of Le Maya Q’atzij/Our Maya Word. Poetics of Resistance in Guatemala (2021; Spanish, 2020 and 2022), which won Cuba’s prestigious Casa de las Americas Literary Criticism Prize in 2020, and Maya Nationalisms and Postcolonial Challenges in Guatemala (2009; Spanish 2008). He has also published edited volumes and numerous articles on Indigenous rights. His current research, which has been supported by fellowships like Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, focuses on Indigenous struggles for self-determination in various parts of Abiayala (the Indigenous ancestral name of the Americas). His work aims to highlight the potentialities of building trans-hemispheric Indigenous alliances by critically exploring the field of Indigenous studies, settler colonial borders, Indigenous forced migration, Indigenous approaches to environmental justice, and Indigenous women and LGBTQ2s+ rights.

Keme is a co-founding member of the binational Maya anti-colonial collective, Community of Maya Studies, Ix’balamquej Junajpu Wunaq’, and volunteers as a cultural advisor for the International Mayan League in Washington, D.C. He is also a trustee of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, where he serves in the Collections & Scholarship, and Repatriation Committees.


Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh

B.A., Northeastern Illinois University