El maíz y el surgimiento semiótico en un cuento maya contemporáneo: U tsikbalo'ob XNuk Nal [Los cuentos de la abuela mazorca] de Tec Tun

Translated title of the contribution: Maize and semiotic emergence in a contemporary Maya Tale: Tec Tun's, U tsikbalo’ob XNuk Nal [Tales of Old Mother Corn]

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Abstract

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. This argument is advanced through the lens of the Maya concept of óol or "existential growth" which displays close similarities with the concept of "final cause" as defined by the philosopher, Charles Sanders Peirce, a major influence in biosemiotics. Through textual analysis of the Maya and Spanish versions, the article shows how Tec Tun's story depicts maize and humanity as mutually oriented towards nurturing each other in a relationship of "structural coupling" (Varela and Maturana): the co-constitution of habitat and inhabitant. This interaction results in the emergence of symbolism, a complex stage of semiotic emergence that can, at least partially, account for the central role of maize in human consciousness for Maya cosmology.

Translated title of the contributionMaize and semiotic emergence in a contemporary Maya Tale: Tec Tun's, U tsikbalo’ob XNuk Nal [Tales of Old Mother Corn]
Original languageSpanish
Pages (from-to)112-126
Number of pages15
JournalTapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • biosemiotics
  • maize
  • Maya
  • Mexico
  • structural coupling

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