Culture

A PhD Student Made History By Writing Her Entire Thesis In An Indigenous Peruvian Language

Scholars at Lima’s San Marcos university say it’s the first time a student has written and defended a thesis entirely in a native language. Roxana Quispe Collantes made history when she verbally defended and wrote her thesis in Quechua, a language of the Incas. While Quechua is spoken by 8 million people in the Andes with half of them in Peru, it speaks volumes that this hasn’t happened before at the 468-year-old university, the oldest in the Americas. 

Quispe Collantes studied Peruvian and Latin American literature with a focus on poetry written in Quechua. The United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages program has Peru a part of a global campaign to revive 2,680 indigenous languages at risk of going extinct. Peru is home to 21 of those languages. 

Roxana Quispe Collantes brings Inca culture to her doctoral candidacy.

Quispe Collantes began her presentation with a traditional Inca thanksgiving ceremony. She presented her thesis “Yawar Para” (or blood rain) by using coca leaves and chicha, a corn-based alcoholic beverage in the ritual.

For seven years, the student studied Andrés Alencastre Gutiérrez, a poet who wrote in Quechua, and used the pen name Kilku Warak’aq. For her thesis, she analyzed his mixture of Andrean traditions and Catholicism. 

“I’ve always wanted to study in Quechua, in my original language,” she told the Observer

Quispe Collantes traveled to highland communities in the Canas to confirm the definitions of words in the Collao dialect of Quechua used in the Cusco region. 

“I needed to travel to the high provinces of Canas to achieve this translation and the meaning of toponyms that I couldn’t find anywhere,” she said. “I asked my parents, my grandparents and teachers, and [it didn’t prove fruitful].”

Quechua entering the academic discourse can help preserve it. 

“Quechua doesn’t lack the vocabulary for an academic language. Today many people mix the language with Spanish,” she said. “I hope my example will help to revalue the language again and encourage young people, especially women, to follow my path. It’s very important that we keep on rescuing our original language.”

Her doctoral adviser Gonzo Espino told The Guardian he believes Quispe Collantes’ thesis was a symbolic gesture. 

“[The language] represented the most humble people in this part of the world: the Andeans, who were once called ‘Indians’. Their language and culture has been vindicated,” he said. 

It should go without saying but the doctoral candidate received top marks on her project.

Quechua is the most widely spoken indigenous language in South America. 

The oldest written records of Quechua were in 1560 in Grammatica o arte de la lengua general de los indios de los reynos del Perú by Domingo de Santo, a missionary who learned and wrote the language. Before the expansion of the Inca Empire, Quechua spread across the central Andes. The language took a different shape in the Cusco region where it was influenced by neighboring languages like Aymara. Thus, today there is a wide range of dialects of Quechua as it evolved in different areas. 

In the 16th century, the Inca Empire designated Quechua as their official language following the Spanish conquest of Peru. Many missionaries and members of the Catholic Church learned Quechua so that they could evangelize Indigenous folks. 

Quispe Collantes grew up speaking the language with her parents and grandparents in the Acomayo district of Cusco. Quechua today is often mixed with Spanish and she hopes that “Yawar Para” will inspire others to revisit the original form. 

Peru takes Quechua to the mainstream. 

Under the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages campaign, this year, Peru began the official registration of names in its 48 indigenous languages.

The U.N. launched its initiative to preserve indigenous languages in 2019 after the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues determined that, “40 percent of the estimated 6,700 languages spoken around the world were in danger of disappearing. The fact that most of these are indigenous languages puts the cultures and knowledge systems to which they belong at risk.”

According to the Guardian, for years, Peruvian registrars refused to recognize indigenous names on public records. They would then force indigenous people to register Hispanic or English-sounding names on government forms while keeping their real names at home. 

“Many registrars tended not to register indigenous names, so parents felt the name they had chosen wasn’t valued,” said Danny Santa María, assistant manager of academic research at Reniec. “We want to promote the use of indigenous names and recognize the proper way to write them on birth certificates and ID documents.”

In 2016, Peru began airings its first news broadcast in Quechua and other native languages, ushering into the mainstream. 

“My greatest wish is for Quechua to become a necessity once again. Only by speaking it can we revive it,” Quispe Collantes said.

These Tourists Thought It Would Be Funny To Poop Inside A Temple In Machu Picchu: They’re Facing Prison Time

Things That Matter

These Tourists Thought It Would Be Funny To Poop Inside A Temple In Machu Picchu: They’re Facing Prison Time

ThatGayGringo / Instagram

Picture this: You’ve made the long, difficult journey to Machu Picchu, taking a variety of planes and trains and buses to get there, and now finally, you’re inside the grounds. You begin to explore the more than 500-year-old site, marveling at its ancient structures, its surreal terraces and ramps. Life is sweet; the world is wonderful and mysterious. But at some point —and for some unknown reason— you sneak into a sacred temple constructed half a millennium ago, drop your pants, and POOP one of the greatest marvels this world has to offer. This actually happened.

Six tourists emptied their bowels inside the hallowed grounds of an Incan worshipping room: There’s something deeply wrong with some people.

For some inexplicable reason, that’s exactly what a group of tourists allegedly did over the weekend, France 24 reports. Six people in their twenties and early thirties were arrested on Sunday after Peruvian authorities caught them in a restricted area of Machu Picchu’s Temple of the Sun, a revered part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Park rangers and police found feces inside of the temple.

The Temple of the Sun had also been damaged after a piece of stone had “broken off a wall and caused a crack in the floor,” regional police chief Wilbert Leyva told Andina, a local news agency. “The six tourists are being detained and investigated by the public ministry for the alleged crime against cultural heritage,” Leyva said.

The group was made up of one French, two Brazilians, two Argentines and a Chilean, according to police.

They face at least four years in prison if found guilty of damaging Peru’s heritage. Several parts of the semicircular Temple of the Sun are off limits to tourists for preservation reasons.

Worshipers at the temple would make offerings to the sun.

The sun was considered the most important deity in the Inca empire as well as other pre-Inca civilizations in the Andean region. The Machu Picchu estate—which includes three distinct areas for agriculture, housing and religious ceremonies—is the most iconic site from the Inca empire that ruled a large swathe of western South America for 100 years before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.

Three Argentines, a Brazilian, a Chilean and a French woman make up the group.

Local media reported that all the tourists were aged between 20 and 32. In 2014, authorities denounced a trend that saw tourists getting naked at the sacred location. Four American tourists were detained in March of that year forremoving their clothes and posing for photos at the site. In a pair of separate incidents earlier in the same week, two Canadians and two Australians were detained for stripping down for pictures there.

Machu Picchu, means “old mountain” in the Quechua language indigenous to the area.

The historic site is at the top of a lush mountain and was built during the reign of the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438-1471). It lies around 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Andean city of Cusco, the old Inca capital in southeastern Peru. The site was rediscovered in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1983.

This Comic Is Being Used To Highlight The Chaos Of Climate Change In Latin America

Culture

This Comic Is Being Used To Highlight The Chaos Of Climate Change In Latin America

el_rubencio / Instagram

The days of comics that are all about cape crusaders and masked bad guys are over. We’re living in a new time where we can’t afford to pretend we live in a fantasy world. Artists today are taking the modern world we’re living in, full of evil politics, natural disasters, environmental issues, and whatever else is thrown our way and applying that to a new frontier of comic-book stories. 

Creatives have launched “Puro Peru,” a kid-friendly comic book that educates and explores indigenous communities and essential issues such as the environment.

Credit: Vooltea

The comic book is 92 pages and includes eight separate stories that are all about discovering Peru, the people who live there, and how they’re tackling issues with climate change. 

“We present eight stories with stories that bring us closer to Peru in a personal way, on a journey full of ancestral traditions and knowledge,” creators state on their website. “With them, we want to sensitize society about the environmental situation of the planet, in the Amazon rainforest and in the mountains of Peru. We hope you enjoy this great adventure designed by several of the best illustrators and writers in Spain.”

The book is published by CESAL, an extension of Vooltea, which is an interactive and educational website aimed at young people and teachers to publicize the different realities of five Latin American countries, which include El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. 

Let’s meet some of the artists and the stories they’re sharing.

Credit: Vooltea

Javier de Isusi and Alex Orbe take on the causes and consequences of climate change in their comic book stories. 

“Climate change is currently the main environmental problem and one of the biggest challenges of our time,” they write. “This also exacerbates the situation of poverty in which the most disadvantaged groups are found: women, peasants, and indigenous population, and it is with them that CESAL works in Peru.”

Calo, an award-winning artist, takes on climate change by exploring how people in various countries handle the changes to their environment.

Credit: Vooltea

“What measures have been taken to mitigate climate change?” he asks in his story about international measures to break and adapt to climate change. “When are we worldwide? It’s about taking a trip through the reality of different continents and countries to find good and bad practices.”

Emilio Ruiz Zavala and Ana Miralles dive into the indigenous and Sierra population and how these benefits the mitigation of climate change.

Credit: Vooltea

“Climate change especially affects indigenous peoples and rural communities,” the artists state. “On the other hand, they are also the ones with the most accumulated knowledge of climatic phenomena and how to deal with variability and unpredictability.”

Artist Rubencio addresses the critical aspect of strengthening the capabilities of the indigenous population in order to take on the issues of climate change.

Credit: Vooltea

“The concept of resilience has become fundamental in the theory and practice of disaster risk reduction and currently has an important place in discussions about adaptation to climate change,” he states. 

Núria Tamarit, one of the youngest artists taking part in the series, looks at how people can help their local environment in order to make a global impact. “The intention is to encourage critical reflection on the society in which we live and propose changes (clues) that promote a new development model based on sustainability and respect for the environment,” Tamarit states. 

Teresa Valero’s story takes on how climate change is affecting the jungle of Peru. 

Credit: Vooltea

“The Amazon represents 62 percent of the Peruvian territory. In her, they inhabit the greater number of native cultures and the greater biodiversity of the country and the world. As a consequence of Climate Change, strong droughts and floods stand out, causing the loss of forests.”

It’s so beautiful that kids today (and adults) can understand what is happening to our planet on an intermediate level — in Peru — in a way that isn’t complex to understand. 

Often, people don’t seem to grasp the severity of climate change because they feel the problem is more significant than themselves and too challenging to be part of the change. These stories show us in simpler and creative terms that change is possible. The comic book is available to download for free. Click here

READ: The ‘Sahuaraura’ Manuscript, An Ancient Peruvian Document That Was Thought Lost—Was Found Just Last Week, Over 100 Years Later