This essay explores the position and contribution of Natalia Toledo Paz, one of the most recognized contemporary poets in the native languages of Mexico, to the field of environmental ethics in local and global contexts. I focus on her bilingual works, written in Spanish and Zapotec, Ca gunaa gubidxa, ca gunaa guiiba’risaca/Mujeres de sol, mujeres de oro (2002) and Guie’yaase’/Olivo negro (2005), which revive the traditions, the poet’s memories, the nature, and the spirituality of her native Juchitán. Her focus on the Juchitec women have extended and deepened the mission of contemporary indigenous writers by incorporating the concerns of Latin American ecofeminism, which calls for the recognition of ancient wisdom and traditions: “Indigenous peoples everywhere are among the world’s poorest; this is especially true of indigenous women. This situation will probably not improve until non-indigenous viewpoints of superiority and assimilation give way to respect and recognition of the value of indigenous lifestyles” (Ress 68). Even though a significant part of Toledo Paz’s poetry is dedicated to women, the main objective of the poet is to address the threats posed by globalization to the environment and indigenous culture rather than to focus on the problems in gender relations in Zapotec society. Toledo Paz’s work reflects ecological concerns that no longer apply to exclusively environmental problems (as originally defined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866), but also include “the relationships between individuals, communities, and their (natural and built) environments” (Gersdorf et al. 15). This essay demonstrates how the feminine and indigenous perspective of Toledo Paz contributes to the current ecological debate by emphasizing the importance of maintaining cultural and linguistic diversity.
Day, Ida. “The Ecological Dimension of Natalia Toledo Paz’s Poetry.” Global Issues in Contemporary Hispanic Women's Writing: Shaping Gender, the Environment, and Global Politics, edited by Estrella Cibreiro and Francisca López. New York: Routledge, 2012, pp. 140-158.