BiographyMy research and teaching focus on literature produced in Spanish and four indigenous languages of Latin America: Central & Southern Quechua, Yucatec Maya and Nahuatl. I combine literary studies, linguistics and anthropology to explore how indigenous literatures engage with philosophical questions. I am a Quondam Fellow of Hughes Hall (University of Cambridge), Research Associate of Centre of Latin American Studies (University of Cambridge), a member of the Mexican National Research Association (SNI), Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy, and Associate Professor of Literature at University of the Americas Puebla (UDLAP) in Mexico, where I teach Latin American literature and cultural studies, as well as global environmental philosophy. I manage the Core Humanities Programme for all undergraduate students, and am co-founder (with Nahuatl author, Martín Tonalmeyotl) of a new series of bilingual indigenous literature published by UDLAP: http://blog.udlap.mx/blog/2020/09/udlap-presento-los-primeros-libros-de-la-serie-bilingue-literatura-en-lenguas-originarias/
Previously, I held a three-year Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge, and a Research Fellowship at Hughes Hall, during which time I spoke with over thirty Maya authors in Mexico as part of the research for my monograph, "Writing the Land, Writing Humanity: The Maya Literary Renaissance", and travelled throughout southern Mexico in search of the country’s most elusive bird species. During the Fellowship, I spent two months learning the Southern Quechua language in Cuzco, Peru, and another two months learning Nahuatl in Puebla, Mexico. These were the official languages of the Incan and Aztec Empires, and are spoken by millions today. I also had a consultancy role for the BBC in the development of their “Bitesize” educational programme on the Ancient Mayas https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/zq6svcw, and convened an indigenous studies module for the MPhil programme in Latin American Studies at University of Cambridge.
Prior to my position in Cambridge, I spent a year learning Yucatec Maya at the Autonomous University of the Yucatan, funded by a Mexican Government Postdoctoral Fellowship, and held a concurrent Research Associateship at the Zoology Department, University of Oxford. My PhD (University of London, 2013), funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (UK), involved spending a year in the Peruvian Andes, during which time I learned the Central Quechua language and documented bilingual folksongs composed in Spanish and Quechua. My thesis engaged the folksongs in dialogue with the philosophical perspectives of Derrida, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, to explore the extent to which the concept of “identity” is applicable in the Andean cultural context.
Before embarking on my PhD, I spent a year as a British Council teaching assistant in France and Austria, in order to brush up on my French and German, and participated in an ornithological expedition to a remote part of the Bolivian Amazon, organized by the University of Glasgow Expedition Society. I was awarded the Arts Faculty Prize for my undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Hispanic Studies at University of Glasgow (2007), and the Class Prize for Anthropology (Faculty of Social Sciences).
Other publications include:
• Pigott, Charles. “Cosmic Narratology and Human Exceptionalism in Maya Poetry: Villegas’ Yáax K’áak’ [Primordial Fire]”. Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism, vol. 24, no. 2, 2020, pp.169-184 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14688417.2020.1771609
• Pigott, Charles. “Maize and Semiotic Emergence in a Contemporary Maya Tale: Tec Tun’s, U tsikbalo’ob XNuk Nal [Tales of Old Mother Corn]”. Tapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society, vol. 2, no. 1, 2019, pp.112-126. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/25729861.2019.1674547
• Pigott, Charles. “The Last Inca: Hegemony and Abjection in an Andean Poetics of Discrimination”. Modern Languages Open (Liverpool University Press), vol. 1, 2018, pp.1-35. https://www.modernlanguagesopen.org/articles/10.3828/mlo.v0i0.146/
• Pigott, Charles. “Foreign Encounters in the Pallas of Bolognesi, Peru”. Latin American Indian Literatures Journal, vol. 28, no. 1, 2014, pp.28-53.
• Pigott, Charles. “The Soqomocho of Huayllacayán”. Latin American Indian Literatures Journal, vol. 28, no. 1, 2014, pp. 54-61.
• Pigott, Charles. “Ecological Ethics in Two Andean Songs”. Studies in American Indian Literatures, vol. 26, no. 1, 2014, pp. 81-109. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/539875
• Pigott, Charles. “Unity and Difference in Andean Songs”. Oral Tradition, vol. 28, no. 1, 2013, pp.77-102. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/539091
• Pigott, Charles. “The Lyrical Creation of Community: Song as a Catalyst of Social Cohesion in Andean Peru”. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, vol. 9, no. 4, 2013, pp.336-351. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/117718011300900405
Contact: [email protected]
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Latin American literature
Latin American indigenous languages (Central & Southern Quechua, Yucatec Maya, Nahuatl)
Ecocriticism and environmental humanities
Interdisciplinary research (literary studies, anthropology, linguistics, philosophy)
Natural history (all aspects, but especially birding)
Music (especially singing)
Languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Yucatec and Classical Maya, Nahuatl, Central and Southern Quechua, French, German, some Italian)
Published: Jun 30, 2020 by Green Letters Studies in Ecocriticism
Authors: Charles Maurice Pigott
Subjects: Geography , History, Literature, Philosophy, Anthropology - Soc Sci, Area Studies, Environment and Agriculture , Communications Studies
This article examines the ecological significance of Villegas’ bilingual poem (Maya and Spanish), “Yáax K’áak’/Fuego Primigenio”. By engaging the poem in dialogue with the philosophies of Serres, Peirce and Ricoeur, the article argues that the poem presents literature as emergent from a narratological potential in the universe, and grounds its vision of human exceptionalism on our ability to de-centre ourselves by engaging with our more-than-human origins.
Maize and semiotic emergence in a contemporary Maya Tale: Tec Tun's, U tsikbalo’ob XNuk Nal [Tales of Old Mother Corn]
Published: Nov 01, 2019 by Tapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society
Authors: Charles Maurice Pigott
Subjects: Geography , Literature, Philosophy, Anthropology - Soc Sci, Area Studies, Environment and Agriculture
This article discusses a contemporary Maya story about the relationship between humanity and maize in the Yucatan Peninsula: José Manuel Tec Tun’s, U tsikbalo’ob XNuk Nal / Los cuentos de la Abuela Mazorca [Tales of Old Mother Corn]. It argues that the story depicts a process that the recent biological field of biosemiotics terms “semiotic emergence” (Hoffmeyer): the evolution of higher stages of complexity through the interaction between previous levels.