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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Mr Charles Pigott


Charles Pigott
Mr Charles Pigott
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Thesis title:
Voices of the Mountains: Language and Cultural Identity in Andean Songs
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

My PhD focuses on the role of popular songs in the Andes for cultural identity.  My material is entirely based on data collected during an eleven month stay in two Peruvian provinces: Bolognesi and Pomabamba (Ancash department).  The material consists of: 1) a variety of song-texts which I collected by travelling between villages in each province; 2) transcripts of interviews which I conducted on the social role of waynus (a traditional song-genre) and on Quechua and Spanish (the two languages spoken there).  Thus, my thesis is built around a textual analysis of songs and interview-responses.

My analysis is not restricted to a particular discipline or theoretical framework.  Instead, my view is that literary, linguistic, cultural and historical elements are mutually reinforcing in contributing to the overall Gestalt, or impression, of a work of oral literature.  Moreover, rather than seeing “identity” or “culture” as terms that can be easily defined from the outset, I view meaning as emergent in practise, not as “fixed” in a “dictionary definition”.  Thus, my discussion of what cultural identity “is” will be a product of my analysis of the texts.

The main motivations are: 1) few studies on the lyrics of Andean songs/poetry; 2) comparatively few studies on Ancash language and culture (most centre on Southern Quechua speakers despite the fact that Ancash Quechua is part of the oldest and most diverse branch); 3) few studies explicitly addressing the question of identity in oral literature generally; 4) few studies of oral literature which integrate literary, linguistic and cultural approaches.  The project incorporates many aspects of my undergraduate studies in Hispanic Studies and Anthropology, and Masters in Linguistics.