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Phenomenology of border landscape in the Basque Pyrenees and the Riverbanks of Douro. A common identity or similar cultural relationship? (Fenomenología del paisaje de frontera en los Pirineos vascos y los Arribes del Duero. ¿Una identidad común o interrelaciones culturales similares?)

ORDUNA PORTUS, Pablo M. / SAN VICENTE VICENTE, Fco. Javier / ALVAREZ VIDAURRE, Ester

Publicado en el año 2016 en la Revista de Folklore número 408.

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«Lege zorrotza duzu ordea

Muga hortan ezarria,

anaiak berexten gaituena,

hori da nigargarria.

Zuk deraukuzun herra gaixtoa

Ez dautzut nik ezarria,

Nik ez deraukat bertze hobenik,

Bai, maite Euskal-Herria».

Fernando Aire, alias ‘Xalbador’. Basque bertsolaria [Cited by Gorka Aulestia Txakartegi -1995:177-]

SUMMARY

This paper is the result of an ethnographic review on the concept of border culture in two borderlands of the Iberian Peninsula: Roncal Valley and Riverbanks of Douro. The final work will set out, from a comparative perspective, the development of the identity formation process in those communities that are based on this type of frontier and peripherals territories. In both regions, ethnographic comparison can shows constant values on social rituals as a result of contact between two different but neighboring cultures.

Key words: Roncal Valley; Riverbanks of Douro, Border Culture, Phenomenology of Landscape, Boundary.

RESUMEN

Este artículo es el resultado de una revisión etnográfica acerca del concepto de cultura de frontera en dos espacios de la Península Ibérica: el Valle de Roncal y los Arribes del Duero. Se trata de exposición final desde una perspectiva comparada en la que se muestra e proceso evolutivo propio de toda conformación identitaria. Evolución particularmente especial en todas aquellas áreas fronterizas o periféricas. En ambas regiones ya señaladas, esta comparativa etnológica puede exhibir una serie de valores comunes en los ritos sociales. Todo ello es producto o resultado del contacto entre dos diferentes pero vecinas comunidades.

Palabras clave: Valle de Roncal; Arribes del Duero, Cultura de frontera, Fenomenología del paisaje fronterizo.

1. Concept of border

In History and Cartography, a border is a marked and defined line drawn in a map, a way of marking a separation of the others from the world[1]. However, in Anthropology, these limits are not only a series of landmarks, but also intangible spaces. At that level, boundary doesn’t necessarily work as a distinction between cultures on both sides, but all the way around a construction of human identity[2]. This is where the landscape is simply a material or immaterial meeting point between groups or the same people: “Cradled in one culture, sandwiched between two cultures, straddling all three cultures and their value systems, la mestiza under goes a struggle of flesh, a struggle of borders, an inner war”[3].

Although, in Foreign Affairs, this line becomes symbol of integration with our kin, at the same time it transforms into a separation from others by virtue of political resolutions lacking base on national identity[4]. Today, we see an example of this in the Crimean crisis. Such territorial dispute, Russians, Ukrainians, Tatars and others want to draw not only their own geographical and political border line but also their cultural boundaries and identity as a people. However, in many cases of conflict, the cross-borders come to serve as open spaces without any real checkpoints on service because it imposes local reality[5]. It is true that the acculturation and globalization process shares some of these features on the surface but examining below the appearance they are not the same. As Lee says, “cultural sovereignty is the least affected”. It is clear that issues about the “adoption and absorption of cultural values are not subject simply to state policies or market forces”[6].

However, for each visible border there are many invisible demarcations as well; these distinctions are based on morality, on different beliefs, on language, and worldview. In the Iberian Peninsula, visible boundaries, such as the towering Basque Pyrenees Mountains (‘muga’) or Riverbanks of Douro (Arribes) and Trás-os-Montes (‘la raya’ or ‘a raia’), guard many intangible meanings as a result of the constant interaction between the community and its environment[7]. It can be said that the humanization of some territories like Pyrenees is an ancient reality[8]. Thus, for example, in the Western Pyrenean region there are cores of population in which their settlers, throughout history, have devoted themselves in an almost exclusive way to the management of their natural resources. At the same time they have given place to create territorial exchange networks with the purpose of supplying the needs of other nearby regions of the geographical surroundings. All of this has been possible as a consequence of the transmission and the maintenance of a series of common features relating to human behavior or to the ethologic of the settler in his habitat.

Nowadays, a great amount of the traditional customs belonging to the so-called ‘border culture’ are being lost or are modifying their metaphorical and metonymic meanings. Nevertheless, all of such human manifestations that still survive as the material and intangible result of the interrelationship of humankind with its ecological niche, reflect the adjustment of the Pyrenean inhabitants or the ‘ribereños’ (riverside dweller) from the Arribes to their environment and to the natural resources that surround them[9]. For this reason, we understand that it’s of great interest to carry out studies of this phenomenon, applying fieldwork techniques used in Ethnography and Anthropology. And it’s in order to analyze a culture understanding of its purpose in comprehension as the answer of the being to its world, to its transcendence and to the geographical space that gives it shelter[10]. From the beginning we have understood that it is possible to accomplish this kind of analysis on Anthropology of the Territory, using methods of study initiated by different authors. Of course, in fieldworks, the ethnological questionnaires have be regularly updated and based on the prism of a comparative observation as opposed to merely description. Always, the border area should be treated as a place of cultural interaction[11]. Definitely, the purpose of a complete study about the ‘border culture’ must be culminating in a total review based on a project of analysis and fieldwork of an interdisciplinary character (blending ethnography, anthropologic theory and ethno-history).

According to Aguirre, “from the human ethologic perspective it is said that humankind has always had an innate trend to occupy, delimit and defend a territory [...] taking into account the proportions of its costs against its benefits”. And as the author says, “that is to say, taking into account the possibilities of defense in combination with the abundance of resources contained in the occupied area”. However, from a cognitive-symbolic perspective of the ethno-territory, “human territoriality is defined as a habitat that is perceived and adapted culturally by a community”[12]. From this latter angle, the study of regional ethnography presented herein is intended to draw the attention on the urgency of characterizing the areas like the western Pyrenees or the Riverbanks of Douro and Trás-o-Montes Region. It is necessary to characterize it in terms of cultural identity prioritizing the etiologic adjustment process to the surroundings undergone by its settlers and its socio-cultural impact.

Of course, we also propose to discuss alternative socio-cultural scenarios and the options that are available for the younger population in places like our Iberian environment, conceived as a border territory. That is to say, to open a phenomenological reading of the landscape, an interpretation of the human and cultural space[13]. For such purposes, we must bear in mind that when a cultural group ‘appropriates’ a territory, it leaves ‘fingerprints’ of a different nature, such as material (constructions), formal (institutions) and immaterial (internal, spiritual and ideological) and fellow symbols. It identifies them as one more of the cultural indicators of the group[14]. That is, a border society is not characterized only by the coexistence of values and of different cultural practices in both sides of the ‘line’[15]. On the contrary, these multicultural collectivities construct most of the variants of a same anthropologic fact managing to blend the features that join them by means of an instrumental rationality and differentiate them by different systems of foreign acculturation[16]. As Romero says, “in the contemporary world it has become evident that border areas are places where phenomena that differ from those corresponding to wider territorial frames are generated”[17]. In these ‘limit’ places, the author emphasizes that economic, demographic, political, sanitary and cultural aspects acquire a special intensity due to the usual traffic and mixture of populations. This is from where the interest of their evolution and the complexity of their changes comes, as well as the interest of the materialization of their study in scientific publications rigorous to the method and to a reflexive analysis. Under Romero’s opinion, contrary to the current view, “concerning a somewhat ‘loss of the cultural identity’ under the push of a great migratory flow” in the Iberian borderlands [generally of a touristic nature], “or the noticeable rural exodus”, we can hold that up to the moment “no major modifications have appeared in terms of identity conflicts”[18]. Although it is true that both territories (Pyrenees and Riverbanks of Douro) could be considered like permeable boundaries, open spaces on culture, history and population.

For example, in this regard the ‘frontier’ mountains located between Larra and Orhi Basque peaks have been configured under the eyes of the Ethnography as a magnificent laboratory to test the anthropologic and ethnologic study of a socio-cultural organization. For this reason we thought it to be indispensable to approach the analysis of certain aspects of the integration or, like Romero says, “the persistence and continuity of economic, linguistic, social and cultural links”[19]. In our case, this should be done between both slopes of the range. Only with years of a ‘participating observation’ in the territory, it is possible to understand the highlands of the Pyrenean Basque Country as a pure and primitive place inside its collective subconscious “near the origins in which the nature, the landscape and the pre/historic cultural monuments suggest restoring evocations, at both a social and an individual level”. It also allows “to composing a reality of undoubted identifying potential in an unallocated Europe”. We must also bear in mind that this natural and human space, as notes, “at least until now, does not seem to have developed into a resentment dealing with a matter of nationalities in terms of exclusivity” and delimited by an international border “but rather it has accommodated in a neighborhood where every party has some demands and obtains benefits of different orders”[20].

2. A programmed society?

From a historical perspective, the Iberian Peninsula becomes a bridge of interaction between Africa and Europe. For this one reason, its border-crosses have always been important economic regions with their stable and private or exclusive culture. This kind of area continues to redefine itself in accordance to the community needs of its settlers. Thus, we can say that the border lines act as “programmed societies”. And Romero attests that in these model communities, “the consumers, even those seemingly passive, adapt their options and produce their ‘own’ itineraries that converge in systems of adhesions which are structured globally”. Therefore, it is still possible nowadays to decipher in this context “manifestations of the ‘ethnic unconsciousness’”[21]. A conscious unconsciousness that recognizes all like “a set of intangible elements that shape the individuals enduringly, even understanding that identity is more of a process” than of a fixed unmovable fact. However, “as regards the changes imposed by the integration” in a more globalized world, the end of the temporary lack of communication of these places along the 20th century and the arrival of new means of contacts is a reality. In the opinion of the aforementioned author, we can also subscribe to what Godelier advanced:

“…the defense of manners of thought and life which are traditional, or are considered as such, can only be achieved, paradoxically, by means of integration, migrations, the development of a market economy, etc. Communities that resist inside the global structures that threaten their identity and at the same time undermine their resistance. For this reason many of the supposedly archaic structures [...] within global processes inevitably acquire [...] a new sense. Anyhow, will it not be that the loss of part of the own identity is the price to be paid to safeguard something of own identity itself?”[22].

At the first time, we need to convey, the historical origins of the border between two territories; secondly, the essential characteristics that have survived time shown troughed by reading the transition of the –human and natural- landscape[23]. Finally, on this way, we could identify the essential characteristics that form, under our point of view, the specific nature of border cultures in general and of the Western Pyrenean stripe or Arribes Region landmark in particular for example. We must consider, as Medina says that “ambiguity is consubstantial to borders”[24]. If this is true “the term ‘border’ itself refers to very different and opposite realities; referring in some cases to a barrier or a dividing line between two differentiated spaces and in others referring to the entrance door and contact with another side”. According to Medina, in the landmark or stripe, close to the political and troubled border of the brawls or conflicts there developed an osmotic, permeable border, full of meetings and of opportunities. That is the Pyrenees or the Riverbanks of Douro understood as meeting places and not as walls. This is the border of traditional smuggling and trade, of the so-called ‘comunais’, ‘passerie’, ‘facerías’, ‘parzonerías’ or ‘partzuergoak’, in spite of all external laws[25]. It is the human border and its tacit strategies. This way a ‘border culture’ arose[26]. The aforementioned culture would be characterized by “a fluid socio-cultural permeability that structures a strong symmetrical interdependence based on complementary and interdependent relations”[27]. However, we stand by what Medina said earlier about that anthropological concept:

“In principle, there exist manifestations that can support such a statement. We think that the concept of border culture must include more than mere complementary and interdependent relations. A border culture or subculture must contain a series of distinctive, specific elements, which distinguish it significantly from the counterfoils cultures and must be, in addition, perceived from inside and from out of its territorial area, in its specificity, both by those who form part of it and by those who do not”[28].

From the initial idea that holds that “the territory works as a significant substratum in relation with the cultural behavior”, throughout the fieldwork about a boundary, the ethnographer can try to illustrate the social use that the residents of that border did with the space[29]. This is a territory of meeting and misunderstanding, a place of those who are equal and unequal, a space where the dialectical relations of a social type are tightly linked to the territorial substratum inside a series of connections tied to the concept of ‘border’. It is obvious that “border cultures are originated as a consequence of contact which creates ‘common areas’ in the limits of the membranes of every cultural group”[30]. It must be borne in mind that the culture of a community arises from group interaction[31]. This process of cultural and group reformation occurs on the basis of a same essence of the similar group or of the identity subject to common schemes of beliefs, thought and values. They are shared experiences and part of a collective learning which are the source of a unique culture within that group. Without a group, culture cannot exist and, without a culture, a collectively community is not possible[32].

As previously stated, territory and landscape become like the tactical stage of fieldwork. That is accounting for the fact that European borders are continually changing, exchanging or removing[33]. In this volatile board game, identity and culture become the most important weapons in the hands of far border communities to defend their own personality. Nowadays, in the state border of the Pyrenees or the Arribes Region we find, together “with the local multiple, dispersed and/or fragmented identities, processes in which the border itself becomes a reference of great importance”[34]. Overall, limits like those planned in the Pyrenees’ Treaty and other similar agreements have become “a source of inspiration to investigate in the essence of these new ways of being part of and being located in the border”. But this encouragement doesn’t seem easy:

“…to try to construct one sole cultural identity for the whole ‘stripe’ looks impossible at first, since there are observed significant variations of this identity in different areas, at both sides of the border. Sometimes there are variations even within a same locality and among the same people. Moreover, probably the frontier identities are woven, like everywhere else, by means of a flexible game of differentiations and oppositions. And it is obvious that many of them take as reference the nearest neighbor, who does not necessarily have to be always one from the ‘other side”[35].

This is the ethnographic concept of border permeability, paradoxically based on the idea ‘us versus them’; the proximity of the strange[36]. Thus, the idea of boundary arises as an open construction[37]. It is a process of creating identity finding new stereotypes about ‘the different’[38]. Therefore, in a paper about any border community one should expect to test the conceptual and methodological principles surpassing all political-economic and historical exclusiveness. In this manner, it is necessary to approach issues like the following, across the ethnographic and ethno-historical amplitude. As Cohen says, “the meaning of the division is to be sought in the consciousness of those who are oriented to it, not in some abstracted collectivity”[39].

3. A cross-sectional analysis methodology

Firstly it is necessary to observe the relationship between the inhabitants and the environment. The natural landscape and the climate offer many options to community members for their exploitation. But we must also think about the transformation and consequences that occur from human interaction with them. One of these aftermaths is the toponymy and consequently its ethnological interpretation. Another consequence could be the means of communication or the manner in which land is distributed with their populating systems: grouped, disperse and mixed. For example, dwellings reflect this in how their names relate to the place where they are located.

Within this outsider’s perception view of the territory and its landscape, an anthropologist can read the meaning of how a community feels about concepts of neighborhood, village, valley, deterritorialization, region and boundary[40]. Intrinsic to this are perceived cases of mutual assistance or communication between neighbors beyond an international or domestic borderline[41]. We can give as an example the perpendicular, not parallel, distribution of Basque dialects in the border between the French and Spanish states. The same arrangement with respect to the line of demarcation is seen in the Galician-Portuguese and Astur-Leonese linguistic groups on Western Iberian-Romance languages area.

In this context a new network of cross-border relationships is woven and to understand that paradigm, it is necessary to create a comparative chart. This diagram should be a table of studies including the relationship between the valleys and villages, mutual charges and trades, family and kinship relations, rights of way and breed of animals (transhumances), bordering migrations (permanent and seasonal), smuggling (‘eskupetik’ or ‘gaueko lana’ on Basque and ‘contrabando’ or ‘contrebande’ on Romance), ‘jumelages’ or brotherhoods, festivities, places of worship and popular religiousness in common on both sides of the border[42]. But in the borderlands identity is also formed by hardship: relations in hostile periods, cross-border differences in uses and enjoyments...[43]

Over this set of social and cultural realities there appears a delicate issue close to the border: equal but different... feeling of being strange? As a saying of Vila de Barrancos, town situated along the Portuguese-Spanish border, reads “cada terra com o seu uso, cada roca con o seu fuso [each land its custom, each distaff its spindle]”[44]. It must be said that the studies would be focused on the three central topics of the investigation: the acculturation process, the metonymic image of the border and human understanding of landscape. Each of which always has implied a theoretical and methodological challenge for the investigators who have tried to approach the relation of human groups with their environment, under a compared perspective. To such an end, the anthropologic concepts of place, space and community must be analyzed as articulators of a critical discussion on the topics of collective and individual identity[45]. The purpose of this is to settle the principles of the study of spatial organization overcoming functional and structural frames. That is to say, to attempt the identification of the territory as a polysemic concept and as a category of phenomenological investigation inside the ‘reception theory’ and ‘life history’[46]. In conclusion, to evaluate, compare and understand the use and meaning of the idea of border community bearing in mind its relevance in the anthropologic discussion of the concept of place and territorial belonging[47]. All this is an important part of the material and intangible cultural heritage of one community.

In response to the two selected regions, it must be emphasized how important is the geographical constraint. On Western Pyrenees, the geomorphologic and environmental frame is scattered with small semi isolated valleys giving rise to a peculiar form of management of the territory and of human acclimatization to the landscape[48]. In the case of the Riverbanks of the Douro it acts as a perpendicular edge between Castilian post Hercynian peneplain and depression of the Portuguese territory. So, from the bedrock of the Spanish North Plateau until the Portuguese depression there’s a difference of about one hundred meters of height. But, for paragon, do these geomorphologic features have influence on the construction of the cultural paradigm of each territory?

To determine this, in studies is necessary to analyze the current evolution of the cultural indicators inside the traditional populations seated in it, attending to the following: its demographic consolidated community, reinforcement of the ecologic niche, ethno-economy, ethno-social structure, ethology, spatial organization, common law and superstructure (language, beliefs, collective customs and historical images)[49].

A special emphasis must be given to the anthropologic indicators of the ethno-territory or socio-cultural habitat. We understand that the study of any socio-cultural relation of a human group has been based on the anthropologic understanding that its members have of territoriality. And this must be like that due to the fact that the territory is the necessary spatial substratum of any human relation, and even more so, if it is a border population. Humankind never accedes to this substratum directly, but rather through a significant production. And this isn’t determined by the physical condition of the territory where the community is located[50]. That is to say that “between the environment and human activity there is always an average term which depends on a series of ethical, cultural and spiritual values”. This cultural frame determines the way that human landscape must cross from the logical objectivity up to the mental and significant structures that sustain and humanize it[51]. At this point, the metaphysical level acquires a decisive impact over a conception of one’s self, the group identity and the perception of the settlement: ‘proxemics’[52].

Therefore, always, the investigation of the social use of space, ‘kinesics’, will include one analysis of body language as opposed to its spatial contour and the relation of the geographical context across the community and its organization. In García’s words, “two difficulties appeared at the time of approaching this investigation: a conceptual and a methodological one”[53]. The first difficulty forces us to precise the notion of territoriality as a place of socio-cultural meeting. For this reason, before carrying out a relevant fieldwork it is necessary to delimit and to clarify the concepts of ‘territoriality’, ‘border’ and ‘border culture’[54]. The second difficulty is of a methodological order and deals with the need to define the form in which territorial guidelines have to be observed in order to draw a comparative map of the territorial habits. For example, in the peninsula, is appropriate to see if it’s reflected in both slopes of the Pyrenees or in both Riverbanks of the Douro.

Likewise, it become necessary to produce an update of the anthropologic studies of territoriality and of the border in general to allow a comparative analysis with those carried out in other continents. All of this facilitates ultimately the combination of the investigation methods based on ‘participating observation’, survey (both direct and indirect) and collection of extra documentation. The questions relating to the ethology of the changes inside the populations must be carried out by means of a survey. For such purposes, it was necessary to determine which different ‘population groups’ should be investigated in those regions to select the suitable and particular questions to be made for each survey. Besides, the researchers must be in relation with the environment, the border, their toponymy and the personal information of every informant. In tandem with this, the designed survey could focus on issues such as the relationship between the inhabitant and the environment, the community’s sense of space, the communal concept as opposed to the individual one. Finally, it is necessary to place emphasis on cross-border relations and the concept of ‘vicinity’ as origin of territorial administration – local government and common law[55]. Of course, the information obtained for the survey directly must be completed through unpublished documentation including photographic, graphical and written information. These data become a polysemic ethnological fact (material and intangible): in conclusion, a ‘border footprint’.

4. The mountain in front of the river along the border

Is an example, from a historical and anthropological point of view, the relationship between the two banks of the Spanish-Portuguese boundary along Castile and Leon, Extremadura and Eastern Portugal has a similar behavior when it comes to land use. Cognitive and metacognitive creations of social groups that inhabit both banks of the Douro River contain more similarities than differences. The traditional architecture is a clear case or example of the cultural richness that single out the borderland of the Riverbanks of Douro and Trás-os-Montes[56]. The architecture is characterized by the use of stone as the main architectural element. The dry stone constructions become the quintessential architectural model in these villages. They appear as a hallmark throughout the landscape defining and combining the territory. Thus, the creation of space is produced by the union of nature and man. In that way, it makes the visual and spatial planning as a unifying element of its architecture. Through the stone, the settler of this land sets his public and private human space. In short, the stone disseminated in the environment serves to order the landscape and the community within it.

This constructive symbiosis between two border sides also occurs in the Basque mountains between the Roncal Valley and Basabürüa (Soule). In this area the buildings, eminently Pyrenean, are in a hip or gable roof or sloping roof and grouped into neighborhoods more or less contiguous. The internal layout was designed not only to be used as a residential space but also as agriculture and livestock areas. Likewise, homes have outbuildings destined for different development and production of products[57].

We see the similarities of the use of spaces from a functional and symbolic view within architectural spaces is one of the connecting links. The house is the hub where the nuclear family and productive life have its center. It’s the place where the family as a distinct social entity takes decisions related to their production and housing world. That is, the family becomes “an organic unity” where members, according to Wathmore, “occupy very different positions [...] structured by social relations of power” that reinforce the productive and social system of these semi-isolated and autarkic settings[58].

In this physical and symbolic complex symbiosis of meanings and beliefs a cultural mutation occurs. The house becomes a social module attached to the community by belonging to the same social entity by criteria of coexistence among its members. However, while the Basque Pyrenean rural house gets to have legal personality, in the Douro River bordering counties it is not so. In the riversides of Arribes Region, their view is more limited. The core of the home is designed as a place for family accommodation which must be maintained and strengthened as far as possible. However, the bond to the building does not last if the situation requires or compels abandonment for socioeconomic reasons.

It is true that in scenes of Pyrenean and Spanish-Portuguese frontiers, the family is conceived as a network of inter-relationships established in a single house that encompasses over three generations and even their servants. However, in the Basque case, its defense and maintenance of respect are required. The group or lineage is identified with the house and has a point of reference, rest and privacy from the outside world. It is the family and their cohorts who possess the right to use the property of the house. In turn, the belonging to it, and therefore to the neighborhood, which gives them access to communal rights and obligations and their uses in the village. Hence the members of a house prioritize defense of their prestige rather than the honor of the society to which they belong as a whole. On this custody of honor the memory of blood and ancestry has a major role. The elders continue to actively participate according to their capabilities in daily chores until they can fend for themselves. Their turn to break their role remains active as vehicle of cohesion and acculturation for the younger generations[59].

Definitely, at both borderlands, one of the elements that characterize the landscape, and one of the first to be identified, is the isolated countryside dwellings (huts). On the shores of Douro, they are called ‘chozos’ or ‘guardaviñas’ on the Spanish side and ‘collide’ or ‘choupana’ in the Portuguese. This primitive structure encloses a system of values and meanings beyond their own material and pastoral record. The presence is documented from going back to Roman sources, where they were already described[60]. In the Pyrenean case, it is true that on the side of Soule the hamlets (‘baserriak’) predominate scattered throughout the territory, while on Roncal Valley the main houses are grouped in villages[61]. On the southern slope, this habitat kind is supplanted in rural spaces of work by the model ‘borda’ or summer construction. However, on both sides of the ridge, small shepherd huts (‘txolak’, ‘olhak’) are built in height mountain passes. In the Castilian Plateau and in the Pyrenees shelters are built in direct response to hostile external climate. These constructions act as a mere control of a minimal protection space. Their most basic arrangements and identical morphology are located within the primitive architectures. As such, they have been frequently used as a symbol of the original architecture of these places, exemplifying the earliest human settlements. Without doubt, the most basic forms of this type of shelter are pastoral, which have been already systematically studied. These huts are the background and origin of the so-called ‘round house’[62].

It’s certain that actually the mental, symbolic and conceptual evolution of existing cultural heritage in these frontier regions is a delicate matter. In both areas there is a systematic abandonment and transformation of traditional production models. Agricultural, cattle and craft systems are directly associated with their tangible and intangible cultural heritage. This occurs evenly in all three states covering our comparison: Portugal, Spain and France. We can say that all this is due to the modernization of its agricultural and livestock structures. Also, in this process of transformation there has been an active agent: the influence of a globalized urban model as final axis of social contacts of these populations[63].

Are perhaps the habits and traditions radically different on both sides of any borderline? Or, despite globalization, have had a similar running even today. This question requires reviewing the methodological paradigm for analyzing the concepts of border, boundary and frontier. And, of course, oblige to study the context in detail and avoid general classifications, in the aim of understanding their significance in each collective imaginary. Thus, the comparison of any different realities and interpretations in the same cultural and physical context could permit to come up with the hypothesis of the existence of differentiated processes of acculturisation. Maybe, the evolutionary process of adjustment to changing present could be a consequence of a series of particular causes that have meant the birth of cultural differences in the same ethnic realities. However, at the same time, it gave place to the consolidation of basic similarities derived from the ‘past memory’ and the development of the present in the context of a pre and post border reality.

This one allows to step forward in the knowledge of a border culture and to comprehend its present reality, while understanding its future from a wider perspective in its approach[64]. Therefore, ‘conceptually’ it may provide the chance to accurately define the concepts originally indicated as starting point: ‘border’, ‘identity’, ‘community’ and ‘collective memory’. In a ‘prescriptive level’ it would be possible to formulate expositions of analysis. But this inquiry must be base on a good study of the state of the matter that in a ‘descriptive level’ meant the possibility of describing a community image that is slowly fading away in the context of an unlock European Union without internal borders or frontier posts[65]. The result has be a normative analysis, from a theoretical and comparative point of view, of two population groups without obviating the critical reflection of data, hence avoiding a merely descriptive process.

5. Phenomenology of border landscape

We believe that the implementation of a fieldwork project means introducing the concept of ‘landscape phenomenology inside the border territory’ in the studies that develop in the aforementioned areas. That is, taking into account the perception of human landscape from the point of view of the Anthropology of the Territory[66]. The attraction for the forms of organization of the space and for the perception of the environment in border societies has also turned into a fruitful field for the ethnographic investigation of rite and collectivity.

Clearly is possible to observe the extent to which the differences as to the method of defining and the way of approaching the relation human/environment could continue being patent in accordance to the theoretical tendency that orientated the research. This occurs if we understand the landscape as a land extension, but considered in its cultural aspect. This way, we discover that, apart from its physical reality, it provides much more for the understanding of a society[67]. In other words, we get to consider it as a cultural construction[68]. This statement emphasizes one of the main features referred to in the investigation: the subjective and cultural nature of the landscape and more if it is on the border[69]. It is not only a tangible entity formed by bio-geographic elements, but it is also subject to a process of perception with a personal and social valuation that construes it as a collective construction[70]. That is to say, the landscape exists because it’s perceived and put into context by people[71]. Therefore the landscape is the result of a concrete environmental frame shaped by human action which, at the time, is based on a particular conception of space. For this reason it is to be analyzed as something changeable, affected by transformation dynamics which are not only physical but also anthropological[72].

As a derivation of these considerations, it is possible to establish two routes for its study: the historical-social one and the phenomenological one[73]. The historical-social route grants special attention specifically to the socio-economic forms taken as determinant for the configuration of the landscapes and for their evolution throughout time. At the same time, the phenomenological route emphasizes the meaning and the intentionality; considering the landscape to be a symbolic and social construction, like a personal or group experience[74]. In our opinion, a conjugation of both theories allows an analysis about the behavior of a border society and its adequacy to its ‘limit space’ to different scales (micro, semi-micro and macro). Because of it, the frontier territory is a dynamic and interactive element that has influenced the evolution of the societies that inhabit it[75]. Its study sets out from the point of view of the braudeliene longue durée[76]. On the far and outlying ‘border wall’, if memory has a preference for getting fixed geographically, the landscape will constitute one of the realities that better reflect cultural reminiscence: “the boundary is part of a complex narrative itself that shapes the collective memory”[77]. The ideological landscape of a country community and its “places for memory” often form part of the visible rural and traditional society, and materialize the ‘world view’ of different ethnic groups. Because of this, always, the need to ‘read’ the landscape and the world in terms of perception and of expression of materialization of polysemic meanings has been observed[78].

6. Final assessment

Today, in Western Europe, these peripheral and disadvantaged rural areas need to build an image that gives them a stronger identity. This new reality must be related, on the one hand, to their historical memory and the cultural heritage and, on the other hand, to the human landscape of the territory[79]. For this reason, we think that the particular example of the ethnographic and comparative studies carried out over two border territories and over their reinterpretation can be a good sample of the options that this type of theoretical postulates offer. To be precise, we refer to the manifestation of a common ethos; something characteristic and typical of all border communities. The essence of this particular spirit resides at par in ambiguity and in the polysemic discourse from the concept of spatial or material boundary until the symbolic or ideal perception of the borderland[80]. Definitely, the border concept leads us to consider the symbolic conception of space. It forces us to create an ethnographic dimension of the ‘other’ in a dialogue with the metaphysical identity of community[81].

In the Basque dialect of Roncal Valley a saying asserts “dina abaño, dina urrin” [so close, yet so far]. In a certain way, the adage refers to those things that being close feel nevertheless distant and vice versa. That’s the feeling often perceived about the ‘other’ on both sides of a boundary. However, this common collective identity is shaped closely linked both by the territory and by a series of invisible, but very real, ties inside each of the communities like boundary stones themselves. At this moment, the zipper effect at the border is broken because of the great capacity for resilience to adversity that characterizes these communities. In conclusion, we are in the presence of a “live border”. In either case, we are faced with an overlapping of two old international boundaries where constant processes of cultural accumulation occur.

Orduna Portús, Pablo M.

Professor at Universidad International de La Rioja

Independent researcher at Etniker and Red Cultural-Kultursarea

San Vicente Vicente, Francisco Javier

Independent researcher at Red Cultural-Kultursarea

Álvarez Vidaurre, Ester

Independent researcher at Etniker





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FOOTNOTES

[1]Abramson, Allen and Dimitrius Theodossopoulos (eds.). Land, law and environment: mythical land, legal boundaries. London: Pluto Press, 2000, pp. 1-3.

[2]Vieira, Alberto Bibliografias-Fronteira. Funchal: CEHA, 2013, in <http://www.academia.edu/3187587/Bibliografias-Terra_de_Fronteira>, pp. 1-7.

[3]Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands. La frontera. The new mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987, p. 78.

[4]Bukowczyk, John J., et al. Permeable Border: The Great Lakes Region as Transnational Region, 1650-1990. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005, p. 155 y Medina, Eusebio. «Aportaciones sobre una epistemología de los estudios sobre fronteras internacionales». In Estudios fronterizos, 7 (13), 2006c, p. 18.

[5]Sahlins, Peter. Boundaries. The making of France and Spain in the Pyrenees. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991, p. 268.

[6]Chan, Joseph M. and Bryce T. McIntyre (eds.). In search of boundaries: communication, nation-states and cultural identities. Westport, CT: Ablex Pub, 2002, p. 67.

[7]Taillefer, François. Les Pyrénées: de la montagne à l’homme. Toulouse: Privat, 1974, p. 8.

[8]Barandiarán, José Miguel. Curso monográfico de etnología vasca. Ataun: Jose Miguel de Barandiarán Fundazioa, 2000, p. 31.

[9]Sanz, Elvira. «Modelos y representaciones sociales en torno al desarrollo del Pirineo navarro». In Lurralde: Investigación y espacio, 32, , 2009, pp. 93-118 y Medina, Eusebio. «Orígenes históricos y ambigüedad de la frontera hispano-lusa (La Raya)». In Revista de Estudios Extremeños, 62, 2006a, pp. 713-723.

[10]Sanz, Elvira. «La frontera, la casa y el valle: referentes de la sociedad pirenaica tradicional». In Sancho el sabio: Revista de cultura e investigación vasca, 32, 2010, p. 32.

[11]Quiroga, Anastasio, et al., El hombre argentino. Una visión antropológica. Buenos Aires INET, 1999, in <http://www.oni.escuelas.edu.ar/olimpi99/libros-digitales/html/frontera.html>

[12]Aguirre, Ángel, et al. La identidad de navarra. Barcelona: Ediciones Bardenas, 1997, p. 13.

[13]Duncan, James and Nancy Duncan, “(Re)reading the landscape”. In Environment and planning D: society and space, 6, 1988, pp. 117-126 y Nash, George (ed.). Semiotics of landscape: archaeology of mind. Oxford: BAR International Series, 1997.

[14]Albert, Mª. Carmen. Aculturación y competencia intercultural. Presupuestos teóricos y modelos empíricos. San Vicente del Raspeig: Universidad de Alicante, 2006.

[15]Cornejo, Mónica and Ema Ribeiro «Una fiesta y varias fronteras: los quintos de Barrancos (Portugal) y Noblejas (España)». In Revista de antropología social, 12, 2003, pp. 181-198.

[16]Touraine, Alain. Pourrons-nous vivre ensemble?. Egaux et differents. Paris: Fayard, 1997, p. 224.

[17]Romero, Sonia. «Avances de investigacion. Proyecto: Perspectivas para la integracion. Estudios de etnologia regional. El caso Colonia-Buenos Aires». In 1er Congreso Virtual de Antropología y Arqueología, 1998, in <http://www.naya.org.ar/congreso/ponencia1-9.htm>

[18]Romero, Sonia. Ob. cit., 1998, in <http://www.naya.org.ar/congreso/ponencia1-9.htm>.

[19]Romero, Sonia. Ob. cit., 1998, in <http://www.naya.org.ar/congreso/ponencia1-9.htm>.

[20]Romero, Sonia. Ob. cit., 1998, in <http://www.naya.org.ar/congreso/ponencia1-9.htm>.

[21]Romero, Sonia. Ob. cit., 1998, in <http://www.naya.org.ar/congreso/ponencia1-9.htm>.

[22]Godelier, Maurice. “¿Está la antropología social indisolublemente atada al Occidente, su tierra natal?”. In Revista Internacional de Ciencias Sociales, 143, 1995, p. 170.

[23]Ingold, Tim. “The Temporality of the Landscape” In World Archaeology, 25 (2), 1993, pp. 24-174.

[24]Medina, Eusebio. Ob. cit., 2006a, p. 719.

[25]Duvert, Michel, “La Douane, les frontaliers, les éleveurs en Labourd (Pays Basque nord)”. In Revista Internacional de Estudios Vascos, 50 (1), 2005, pp. 105-169.

[26]Antunes , Mª. Dulce, “Fronteras estatales y relaciones sociales en la frontera hispano-portuguesa. El caso de Barrancos y Oliva de la Frontera”. In Gazeta de Antropología, 24 (2), 2008, in <http://hdl.handle.net/10481/6965> (accessed August 20, 2014).

[27]Uriarte, Luis Mª. “La Codosera: Cutura de Fronteras y Fronteras culturales”. In Revista de estudios extremeños, 50 (2), 1994, pp. 445-462. Cited by Medina, Eusebio. “Aportaciones sobre una epistemología de los estudios sobre fronteras internacionales”. In Estudios fronterizos, 7 (13), 2006c, p. 17.

[28]Medina, Eusebio. «De la línea a la raya. Análisis comparativo sobre la identidad sociocultural en dos espacios de frontera». In Tomás Calvo, Hispanos en Estados Unidos, inmigrantes en España: ¿Amenaza o nueva civilización?. Madrid: Los Libros de la Catarata, 2006b, pp. 358.

[29]García, José Luis. Antropología del territorio. Madrid: Ediciones Josefina Betancor, 1976, p. 1.

[30]Aguirre, Ángel, et al. Ob. cit., 1997, p. 9

[31]Gómez, Luis H. «La participación ontológica. Una visión social de la configuración regional en el sur oriente antioqueño». In La Sociología en sus escenarios, 16, 2007, p. 3; Aguirre, Ángel and Álvaro Rodríguez (eds.). Patios abiertos y patios cerrados. Psicología cultural de las instituciones. Barcelona: Boixareu Universitaria, Marcobo, 1995, pp. 13-31 y Aguirre, Ángel. “Construcción cultural de la identidad social”. In Dario Páez and Sabino Ayestarán, Los desarrollos de la psicología social en España. Madrid: Fundación Infancia y Aprendizaje, 1998, pp. 31-34.

[32]Schein, Edgar H. La cultura organizacional y el liderazgo. Barcelona: Plaza & Janés, 1985.

[33]Amilhat-Szary, Anne-Laure and Marie-Christine Fourny (dirs.). Après les frontières, avec la frontière, Nouvelles dynamiques transfrontalières en Europe. La Tour d’Aigues: Editions de l’Aube, 2006.

[34]Medina, Eusebio. Ob. cit., 2006a, pp. 722.

[35]Medina, Eusebio. Ob. cit., 2006a, pp. 722-723.

[36]Alegría, Tito. “Juntos pero no revueltos: ciudades en la frontera México-Estados Unidos”. In Revista Mexicana de Sociología, 62 (2), 2000, pp. 89-107.

[37]Mellado, Yago. “La frontera abierta”. In Revista CIDOB d’afers internacionals, 82-83, 2008, pp. 179-183.

[38]Mitre, Emilio, et al. Fronteras y Fronterizos en la Historia. Valladolid: Secretariado de Publicaciones e Intercambio Científico, Universidad de Valladolid, 1997, p. 51.

[39]Cohen, Anthony P. “Culture, identity and the concept of boundary”. In Revista de antropología social, 3, 1994, pp. 49-62.

[40]Gupta, Akhil and James Ferguson. «Más allá de la “cultura”: espacio, identidad y las políticas de la diferencia». In Antípoda: Revista de Antropología y Arqueología, 7, 2008, pp. 233-256.

[41]Orduna, Pablo M. «Vecindad y derecho consuetudinario: análisis de los usos y costumbres comunitarias en el Valle de Roncal». In Cuadernos de Etnografía y Etnología de Navarra, 86, 2011, pp. 147-203.

[42]Perales, José A. Fronteras y contrabando en el Pirineo Occidental. Pamplona: Gobierno de Navarra, 2004 y Medina, Eusebio. Contrabando en la raya de Portugal. Cáceres: Institución Cultural ‘El Brocense’, 2003.

[43]Dos Santos, C. João. “O Reflexo das Rivalidades Luso-Castelhanas no Espaço Raiano (1165-1580)”. In Revista de Estudios Extremeños, 48(2), 1992, pp. 377-401.

[44]Navas, Mª. Victoria. «Enunciados sentenciosos en la literatura oral de la frontera hispano-portuguesa: el ejemplo de Barrancos». In Paremia, 6, 1997, p. 440.

[45]Sanz, Elvira. Ob. cit., 2010, pp. 11-41.

[46]Álvarez, Ester. «La “reception history” y su influencia en los estudios sobre megalitismo. Nuevos enfoques historiográficos». In Memoria y civilización, 11, 2008, pp. 33-61 y Álvarez, Ester. «Historia de la percepción y memoria cultural: Influencia en los estudios arqueológicos». In Cuadernos de Arqueología de la Universidad de Navarra, 18, 2010, pp. 182-189.

[47]Mitre, Emilio, et al. Ob. cit, 1997.

[48]Martínez de Pisón, Eduardo. «Reflexiones sobre el paisaje». In Nicolás Ortega, Estudios sobre historia del paisaje español. Madrid: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 2002, pp. 13-19.

[49]Aguirre, Ángel, et al. Ob. cit., 1997, p. 12.

[50]García, José Luis. Ob. cit., 1976, p. 13.

[51]García, José Luis. Ob. cit., 1976, pp. 13-14.

[52]Hall, Edward T. The Silent Language. Greenwich (Conn.): Fawcett, 1968, pp. 68-71. Y Navarro, Pedro. «Las viejas fronteras revisitadas: problematizando la formación territorial de los bordes de los Estados-nación latinoamericanos a través del caso de la Norpatagonia Argentina». In Antíteses, 4 (8), 2011, pp. 432-439.

[53]García, José Luis. Ob. cit., 1976, pp. 19-20.

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