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Two Sides of One River: Nationalism and Ethnography in Galicia and Portugal

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Volume 5

European Anthropology in Translation

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Two Sides of One River

Nationalism and Ethnography in Galicia and Portugal

António Medeiros
Translated by Martin Earl
Foreword by James W. Fernandez, University of Chicago

388 pages, 17 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-724-0 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (January 2013)

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Imagination and intrigue guide the reader through the tour de force that is Two Sides of one River… [It] presents an academic encounter for scholars and those passionate about national identity creation through historiography, anecdote, scholarly research, and exceptional and extensive layering. It is a must-read for those who intend to know the true nature of the Galician nation and the identity of Portugal among its counterparts in the Iberian Peninsula.” · Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change

“Medeiros gives us a series of careful, multiple readings of past and present activities of Galician nationalists. His ethnography is fine-grained..., and his analysis is subtle, close,a bit like his writerly style… This is a splendid, intricate ethnography, in an interesting series, dedicated to the translation of European ethnographies into English.” · Anthropological Forum


Galicia, the region in the northwest corner of Spain contiguous with Portugal, is officially known as the Autonomous Community of Galicia. It is recognized as one of the historical nationalities making up the Spanish state, as legitimized by the Spanish Constitution of 1978. Although Galicia and Portugal belong to different states, there are frequent allusions to their similarities. This study compares topographic and ethnographic descriptions of Galicia and Portugal from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to understand how the integration into different states and the existence of nationalist discourses resulted in marked differences in the historical representations of these two bordering regions of the Iberian Peninsula. The author explores the role of the imagination in creating a sense, over the last century and a half, of the national being and becoming of these two related peoples.

António Medeiros teaches in the Department of Anthropology of the Lisbon University Institute (ISCTE-IUL) and is a research fellow at CRIA-ISCTE. He is the author and editor of several books, and was cofounder of the journal Etnográfica. His current projects include a multisited ethnographic research project in Spain and another in Istanbul.

Subject: General Anthropology
Area: Europe


James W. Fernandez

Chapter 1.  States in the Northwest

  • “Forgotten” Galicia
  • Auctoritas
  • Imaginations
  • The Path of Traditions
  • Visions and Pilgrimages
  • Stories of Anthropology – (also) a prodigal daughter of nations
  • Webs of Meanings in the Northwest

Chapter 2.  On Galicia Day

  • A Day of Almost Everything
  • Around the Cathedral
  • Galicia Rising
  • In the Quintana dos Mortos
  • Avatars of the Apostle
  • In the Oak Wood of San Lourenzo
  • Return to the City through Santa Susana

Chapter 3. Precursors/Galician Culture

  • Resurgence – bards and prophets
  • Encounters with the people, art and the hirmandade na fala [Brotherhood in the language]
  • A Manifesto in 1918
  • A Periodical from Ourense
  • Three Lustra of Efforts
  • Remembering[s] and forgetting[s]
  • Memory of Nós
  • Excursus: a polymathic Galicianist, ethnography and the presence of death in Galicia

Chapter 4.  Indianos, the country of bagpipes and the nation of Breogán

  • Doing the Inappropriate, Some Andalusian Caprices
  • Country of Bagpipes
  • Other pipers
  • Xente que sabe moito in various places [People that know a lot…]
  • A Story of Automobiles and Speech

Chapter 5. In The Skin of the Bull: State and Locations of Anthropology

  • Types and Places of Anthropologies
  • Two Precursors of Circumstance
  • Mythical-Mystic Elaborations and Atlantic Myths
  • Inheritors/Inheritances
  • Parishes

Chapter 6. Portugal in Galicia

  • Kinship and affinity
  • Galician stories of Lusos [Portuguese]
  • A song gathered in a remote place
  • The Free Voices of Galicians and Minhotans
  • Where is Portuguese identity?

Chapter 7.  The Minho and the painting of the customs of nations

  • An early and imaginative theory of the provinces
  • An Improbable Lineage
  • An Argument about Images

Chapter 8. The 1st Portuguese Colonial Exposition and the Ethnographic Representation of the Provinces

  • Traces of a New Culture
  • Modern Representation of an Imagined Community
  • To See “the blacks” and “something more”
  • The Beginning of the End of Parody

Chapter 9. A Place in the Mountains or the (mis)encounters oIf Soajo

  • A Very Imagined Place
  • Diverging Citations
  • Lands of Traditions – encounters

Chapter 10. Trail of the Celts and the Lusitanians

  • In Galicia, Like in Ireland, Like in Ireland…”
  • What the archeologists say and lessons in a head of beer
  • Stories more or less known by Michel and the gossip of Primitivo
  • Other lições de cousas on this side of the Minho river
  • Trails taken by the Celts in the Northwest

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