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SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011

(P304)

Ethnic identity, narrative and attachment to place

Location Tower A, Piso 0, Room 4
Date and Start Time 20 Apr, 2011 at 11:30

Convenor

Christine Dupres (National Policy Consensus Center) email
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Short Abstract

This panel will work to elucidate and demonstrate relationships that exist between narrative elements of landscape, its symbolic use and peoples' relationship to the land.

Long Abstract

This panel will consider narrative strategies of belonging to place and will be situated in folkloric and ethnographic theory, including theories of performance genres (Abrahams, 1971; Ben Amos, 1969; and Bauman, 1973). What genres and strategies do ordinary people use to create categories of belonging and make reconciliation between culture and history? Considering the landscape and in particular the sites of significance (Hunn, 1998), this panel will work to elucidate and demonstrate relationships that exist between narrative elements of landscape, its symbolic use and peoples' relationship to the land.

Discussant: Cristina Sanchez-Carretero, Elizabeth Brabec and Luca Zarilli

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

The reality of indigenous youth: where is my place?

Author: Maria Beldi de Alcantara (University of Sao Paulo)  email
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Short Abstract

The Dourados Reservation (DR) is home to approximately 15,000 indigenous Brazilians. Half of the population is under 20. The population is caught between indigenous and western ways of life. The youth of the DR experience rejection and try to create places where they can feel they belong.

Long Abstract

The Dourados Reservation (DR) is home to approximately 15,000 indigenous Brazilians on 3,560 hectares, where the Guarani (Kaiowá and Ñandeva) and the Aruak (Terena) tribes live together. Approximately half of the population is under 20. Located between two cities Dourados and Itaporã, it is cut in half by a state highway that links these two cities and is only 100 km from the border with Paraguay. Being between the two cities, the population is caught between indigenous and western ways of life. A cultural dialog, the consequence of a hybrid process, is replete with tension and conflict.

For the youth of the DR, the city is equated with desire and frustration, while the reservation is the place they must leave, since there are almost no jobs and because they occupy a nonexistent position in the community social order, that of unmarried young adults.

Community space, place and self-determination revealed

Author: Elizabeth Brabec (University of Massachusetts)  email
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Short Abstract

Descended from slaves brought to the southeast United States, after emancipation the Gullah developed distinctive, culturally-expressive communities. Juxtaposed against their ancestor's plantation villages, present-day communities reveal strong connections to and deliberate creations of place.

Long Abstract

The Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia contain a culturally and ecologically unique landscape, spanning an area approximately 250 miles long and 40 miles wide along the southeastern coast of the United States. It is home to the Gullah, a distinct cultural group of African Americans descended from slave populations brought to the region from Africa and the Caribbean between the early 17th and mid 19th centuries. The manner in which these lands were settled, juxtaposing the cultures of land owner and slave on large agricultural plantations, reinforced by the physical and resulting social isolation, provided the environment for the development of this distinct cultural group. Throughout the period of slavery the Gullah developed a creolized culture with distinctive language, foods, religion, arts, music, folktales, and social structure that endure to today. While all of the expressions of culture have developed and modified over time, none has changed as completely as their home landscapes and settlement patterns. Imposed by the plantation owner during the period of slavery, village patterns changed drastically after emancipation. Under slavery the Gullah lived in rigidly geometric settlements. Although this pattern was the only settlement pattern the emancipated slaves had experienced, within the space of two generations community forms transitioned to organic, roughly circular settlements based on family relationships. The contrast of imposed and self-determined settlement form is a valuable case study in identification of the cultural expressions of place, space and identity.

Narratives of belonging to Olveiroa, a pilgrims' "hostel-village" in Galicia, Spain

Author: Cristina Sanchez-Carretero (CSIC)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper analyzes the changing strategies of belonging to a “hostel-village” along the camino de Santiago. It is part of a research project that focuses on the impact on the local population of the pilgrimage to Fisterra, a route of St. James pilgrimage which is not recognized by the Catholic church.

Long Abstract

What does it mean to live in a 100-inhabitant village where every day 50 pilgrims sleep, eat and rest? This paper presents an on-going research project that focuses on the impact on the local populations of a route of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela which is not recognized by the Catholic church: The camino that starts in Santiago and finishes at the sea-shore, in Fisterra (literally "the end of the world"). This part of St. James pilgrimage has been promoted in the last ten years and, since then, continuing until "the end of the world", where the sunset faces the Atlantic, without finishing the pilgrimage in Santiago, is became increasingly popular.

The goal of this paper is to analyze the changing strategies of belonging to the village of Olveiroa, where most of the pilgrims on this route sleep the second day after leaving Santiago; with a special focus on how the remodeling of the village, where stone houses and horreos -traditional grain deposits— have been reconstructed as rooms which are part of a pilgrims hostel. In addition, the narratives of the transformation in the landscape and the impact of pilgrims in Olveiroa daily life will be analyzed. This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Olveiroa and the Santiago pilgrimage to Fisterra.

Cultural landscape and national iconography in the "Kingdom of the Shouting Stones"

Authors: Luca Zarrilli (University "G. D'Annunzio" of Chieti-Pescara - Italy)  email
Marianna Cappucci  email
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Short Abstract

Armenians have historically featured as a Christian "outpost". Therefore, religious identity has always played a strong role in Armenian culture, producing a very specific landscape, dominated by the tangible elements of religiousness and an impressive national iconography.

Long Abstract

Armenians have historically figured as a Christian "outpost" in a regional context dominated by Islam. Therefore, religious identity has always played a strong role in Armenian culture, which helped to keep it alive and has allowed for its survival in diasporic communities as well.

Armenian culture produced a very specific landscape, dominated by the tangible elements of religiousness (e.g., church architecture and khatchkars). The Monastery of Khor Virap (settled in the place where, according to the legend, Saint Gregory, the evangelist of Armenians, was imprisoned for fifteen years) is a key icon. It sits with the Ararat in the background: this image, obsessively portrayed and omnipresent in Armenian everyday life, represents at the same time the essence of Armenian Christianity, the cradle of Armenian civilization and the eradication from the "ancestral land" as a consequence of the Genocide. Moreover, an impressive national iconography (J. Gottmann, 1952), made up of material and immaterial elements, is linked to this cultural landscape, which creates an ambivalent interlacing of symbols, signs and values: from one side such a complex and specific "picture" represents an important tourist resource and a factor of attraction for a growing inbound flow; from the other side it symbolizes - and feeds, to a certain extent - a feeling of national identity that sometimes turns into open nationalism, not without consequences in terms of foreign policy (e.g., a tough position about Nagorno-Karabakh, an anti-Turkish ideological attitude, both hindering prospects of social and economic development).

"Lost Mecca": the Belarusian facet of Vilnius

Author: Kiryl Kascian (University of Bremen)  email
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Short Abstract

Located next to Belarus and historically known for its multiculturalism, the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius has Jewish, Lithuanian, Polish and Russian ethnicities. This paper examines the scope of the City's Belarusian ethnic facet which often is underrepresented.

Long Abstract

The city of Vilnius - the capital of Lithuania - is located 35 km from the border with Belarus. Historically known for its multiculturalism, Vilnius has among others Jewish, Lithuanian, Polish and Russian facets.

The Belarusian facet of this city (Vilnia in Belarusian) remains often underestimated or misrepresented even though Belarusian nationalism tends to sanctify Vilnia referring as "Kryvičian Mecca" (Kryvičian is alternative/poetic name for Belarusian). Such sacralisation may be parallelised with the role of Constantinople in Greek nationalist realm.

In the first half of the 20th century Vilnius was one of the main centres for the Belarusian national movement contesting the leading status with Minsk. Generally, Belarusian nationalism treats Vilnia as a long-standing capital of the Belarusian nation. Thus, the transfer of the City to Lithuania in 1939 is viewed by some Belarusian scholars as the reason that explains success of "de-nationalisation" and "sovietisation" of Belarusians since Minsk could not become a consolidating centre due to lack of own prominent "state-level" past. Despite "de-nationalisation" and "sovietisation" of the Belarusian historical memories in the post-war USSR - partly embodied into elimination of Vilnia from Belarusian collective memory - the City remained amongst the key elements for Belarusian nationalist realm.

The article discusses grounds and maturity of the Belarusian facet of Vilnius showing it as a case where the same terminology does not employ the same meanings. The article also highlights the main shortcomings of underestimation of the Belarusian facet of the City and its influence to the relations between current Belarusian and Lithuanian states and societies.

Meeting around a plane tree in a Greek village: place and identity

Author: Evangelia Psychrani  email
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Short Abstract

This paper explores the significance of a plane tree in a Greek village for people who perceive it constantly. It is argued that the plane tree is an active producer of the public sphere, while it becomes the materialised form of people's identity, giving them a sense of belonging in the world.

Long Abstract

The landscape can never be simply a representation, since it is lived and experienced by people. The phenomenological perception of the territorial affiliation is to be considered a key element in the making of our personal and collective identity. There are places where we feel at home and others where we do not want to go back. The aim of this paper is to explore the material and social significance of a plane tree in a village called Arna, situated at the South of Greece, as it is evoked by the mutual influence with people who perceive it. It focuses on questions about identity, locality and belonging, by following the transactions between people and the plane tree. The role of the plane tree in modifying a place where everyday life, memory and history are entangled is found to be significant. The idea of "feeling at home" emerges from the gathering around the plane tree, which produces a social place and becomes the symbol of the village, where people project their locality. Locals' expressions of their perception of the tree, along with their reactions concerning a potential death, underline its fundamental part in the creation of a familiar place where identity is being constructed.

"All that was left, a vast dry beach of rocks and sand": idealized landscapes and the memory of resource depletion in social-ecological conflicts

Authors: Pedro Gabriel Silva (University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro/CETRAD)  email
Lourenzo Fernández (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela)  email
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Short Abstract

We mean to explore the possibilities of landscape as an instrumental element used by individuals in the course of social conflicts, mainly when access to environmental resources underlie the quarrel. The case of a conflict between peasants and a mining corporation in Portugal is to be analysed.

Long Abstract

Our conceptual point of departure revolves around the idea of landscape as a social-historical process embedded in an engagement between humans and their surroundings. When conflicts over ecological resources occur, landscape idealization might convey a social memory of such past engagements man/environment, more than mere objectifications of perceived horizons. Further, landscape idealization may convene a glance of the transformations brought upon the environment and the way locals perceived and dealt with it. What if social movements, at a particular time, make use of landscape as a socially and historically rooted category, incorporating it amidst the trends of social conflicts? The paper addresses this question, analysing a conflict that opposed a group of smallholder peasants to a mining company in Portugal in the 1970's. Against the will of the company to dredge the small vegetable gardens and orchards, the opposing landowners recalled the damages infringed upon their agrarian resources and original rural landscape by the mining companies that dredged the valley from 1912 to 1949. Pleading to avoid the destruction of their properties, the defiant landowners used an idealized rural landscape that overstated the advantages of organic pre-industrial agriculture opposed to the mayhem generated by mining. The analysis of the conflict at hands might contribute to improve knowledge on how local collective resistance action takes shape and how environmental issues interfere with the process, besides the fundamental political, ideological and economic factors laid out as the basis for social movements.

"Senses of the rural": Brazilian cowboys in livestock shows and fairs

Author: Natacha Leal (UNIVASF/UFSCar)  email
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Short Abstract

In Brazil the figure of peons and cowboys is classic on Literature Studies and Social Sciences. The purpose of this PhD research, to be performed in the Postgraduate Program of Social Anthropology at the University of São Paulo, is to describe cowboys and peons' everyday and symbolic universe in contemporary society, through an ethnography of Livestock Shows & Fairs. The work of these agents (peons and cowboys) at Livestock Fairs and Agricultural Events, contributes to "rethink" the meanings of the " rural" nowadays, and to reflect about the theoretical and methodological ways to perform researches whose subjects are located on the border of Rural Anthropology and Urban Anthropology.

Long Abstract

In Brazil, there is a great circuit of Livestock Fairs & Shows . Such events, celebrate agribusiness as an important economy-booster activity and, in several States, are places for festive activities. Localities of the most different sizes, situated throughout the country have their own fair. Whose exhibition of Farming & Cattle production share stage with a range of hailed entertainment events — big shows with the most requested duos of neo-sertanejo music, gambling tents, food and drink trailers, rodeo contests and, in some cases, sophisticated restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Among the many participants, the success and good output of these Livestock Shows & Fairs depends mainly on peons and cowboys, a particular group which draws special attention. Venerated by many at these exhibitions as "the ones authentically native from the rural universe", cowboys and peons undertake indispensable jobs to the good run of these shows, such as rodeo and cattle handling. Like a troupe, they travel all the year round from fair to fair, scouring the entire Brazilian circuit of small and big livestock exhibitions. This research — a result of fieldwork at country fairs in the cities of Londrina (PR), Campo Grande (MS) and São Paulo (SP) — its intended to apprehend the dynamics of the Brazilian Livestock Shows & Fairs circuit, taking into account peons and cowboy s' routine in these events and considering the way in which their work accomplished a foundation for a large part of business and entertainment activities which happen during those events.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.