Emil’ Keme, a.k.a. Emilio del Valle Escalante, is an Indigenous K’iche’ Maya scholar and activist and a professor in the Department of English at Emory University. He is a member of the Maya anti-colonial, binational collective Ix’balamquej Junajpu Wunaq’.
While at Radcliffe, Keme is working on a monograph, tentatively titled “Abiayala, a Trans-Hemispheric Indigenous Manifesto,” in which he examines Indigenous struggles for self-determination in various parts of Abiayala (the Indigenous ancestral name of the Americas). Through comparative analyses, 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 the author of Le Maya Q’atzij/Our Maya Word: Poetics of Resistance in Guatemala (University of Minnesota Press, 2021), which won Cuba’s prestigious Premio Literario Casa de las Américas in 2020, and Maya Nationalisms and Postcolonial Challenges in Guatemala: Coloniality, Modernity, and Identity Politics (University of New Mexico Press, 2009). He has also published edited volumes and numerous articles on Indigenous rights. Keme volunteers as a cultural advisor for the International Mayan League, in Washington, DC, an Indigenous women–led organization that works for the rights of Indigenous migrants from South America in the United States. He earned an MA and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh.