Ecological visions in Maya and Quechua literature

Ecological visions in Maya and Quechua literature



well the name of this three-year project is ecological visions in Maya and Quechua literature and it's based at the center of latin-american studies here in Cambridge and it's jointly funded by the Leverhulme trust and the Isaac Newton trust it focuses on the Maya and Quechua cultures which inhabit the most biodiverse regions of the world the Quechua in the Andes and the Maya in Mesoamerica together they hold about 20% of all of the species on the planet on just 1% of the planet's surface culturally to the Andes and Mesoamerica are of global importance there are two of the world's cradles of civilization having spawned a kaleidoscope of cultures such as the Maya the Aztecs the Nazca and the Incas however the parallels between the cultural and natural diversity of the Andes in Mesoamerica are also clear in their increasing endangerment both regions have seen over 80 percent of the original habitats destroyed and it's estimated that by the end of this century over half of the world's languages will become extinct including most of the native languages of Latin America Maya and Quechua the two languages at the heart of this project were once the official tongues of the great Maya and Inca civilizations but today are marginalized varieties with a decreasing number of speakers until recently conservation has tended to focus either on natural heritage or on cultural heritage but today a new paradigm is emerging the environmental humanities this paradigm recognises the crucial bond between natural and cultural heritage nowhere is this bond more evident than in the Maya and Quechua cultures where other species feature prominently on ancient monuments sculptures and today in local folklore stories songs and poetry this project will explore the diverse ways that writers in the Mayan and Quechua languages engage with the natural world through literature the resulting book will seek ways of using this literature to inspire local people's interest enthusiasm and appreciation for the natural world so while this project focuses primarily on literature I also engage deeply with a number of different disciplines such as geography linguistics anthropology philosophy and of course ecology so I'll be interacting with a variety of local media in Mexico in Peru here in Cambridge and across the UK in order to explain the essence of the project preliminary findings and also to showcase the incredible cultural and natural diversity of the Andes and Mesoamerica

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