May 13, 2017 at the Penn
Museum: Rob Fergus, PhD, Geography
and Environmental Studies: "Muut Questions: Exploring Modern and Ancient Mayan
Connections to Birds"
Which bird eggs have magical powers among the Chontal Maya of
Tabasco, Mexico? What bird warns Lacandon Maya farmers if a
dangerous snake may be nearby? What messages do owls bring to
modern Chol, Ch’orti’, Mopan, and other Mayan speakers? Ancient
and Modern Maya communities have over 2000 years of extensive
cultural interactions with birds. This presentation explored
these interactions as well as bird names and folklore in ancient
and contemporary Mayan languages.
Rob Fergus studies human-bird interactions and received his Ph.D.
in geography from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008.
Since 2006 he has been working with linguist Kerry Hull (BYU) and
native Mayan speakers to document and studying bird names and
folklore among nine Mayan language communities in Mexico,
Guatemala, and Belize. In addition to Mesoamerican bird
studies, Dr. Fergus works on urban bird conservation issues around
the world, and has taught geography and environmental studies
courses at UT-Austin, Rowan University, Rosemont College, East
Stroudsburg University, and Northampton Community College.
He recently moved from Hunterdon County, NJ to Wallingford, PA
with his wife and three children.
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