Tell me about the project!
"The Heights of Machu Picchu" is the centerpiece of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda's epic retelling of the history of the Americas in his book Canto General. My own work, a book of literary criticism tentatively titled Revisiting the Heights: Neruda, Machu Picchu, and Portraits of the Indigenous, will look at this poem with fresh eyes, examining it in the context of the indigenous people Neruda portrays and the archaeological evidence available in the wake of the Inca-fervor that followed Hiram Bingham's excavations at Machu Picchu one hundred years ago.
Neruda visited Machu Picchu in 1943, a time when the site was largely inaccessible to tourists. In her book Pablo Neruda, Marjorie Agosin says that this trip was "of capital importance" to the poet and that it "expanded his horizons and his sense of being a part of the American continent. He began to identify not only with Chile but with all of America" (59).This visit inspired "The Heights of Machu Picchu" and Neruda's most important book of political poetry.
What's the money for?
Funding will help support my field research, to be undertaken in Perú and Chile in the summer of 2012. Site visits will include Machu Picchu itself; indigenous communities in the greater-Cuzco region; and historically significant locations in Chile such as Neruda's homes in Santiago, Valparaíso, and Isla Negra.
Site visits will allow me to understand Neruda, Machu Picchu, and the indigenous communities of Perú in ways that aren't possible through library research alone. Walking in Neruda's footsteps - scaling the heights for myself - will improve my interpretations. Interaction with locals and academics in Latin America will provide important opportunities to discuss my work.
I've deliberately chosen a modest funding goal, but further contributions would allow for more extensive onsite research.
How's the book going?
I have already undertaken significant literary and archaeological research, with the support of other academics in both fields, to understand the context of the poem politically, historically, and culturally. I've also completed my own translation into English of "The Heights of Machu Picchu" to gain a more personal understanding of it.
I expect to undertake a final round of research in the fall of 2012, after returning from my field studies. At the end of the year, an outline and table of contents will be finished. My draft version is projected to be completed by June of 2013, and the book is expected to be ready in December 2013.
Why is this important?
I am deeply committed to literature and indigenous studies. It is my hope that this project will be a small part of the discourse that helps to make indigenous communities more visible on their own terms, contributing to cultural awareness and historical education.
Get in touch!
Kickstarter is an amazing platform that is new to me. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share my project and for your support. I would love to hear from you! Keep up with my travels this summer through my blog (link to the right) or email me at thisotherthing at yahoo dot com.
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