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Musical Encounters Along the Contemporary Camino de Santiago

  • Author(s): Snavely, Hannah
  • Advisor(s): Wong, Deborah
  • et al.

This thesis examines how individuals use sonic practices to shape the social space of the Camino de Santiago, specifically analyzing how pilgrims’ and locals’ musical encounters create the contemporary Camino. The pilgrims’ practices and spaces simultaneously intertwined with, rivaled, and sounded in synchrony with lived places grounded in local histories and politics. As I understand the Camino not simply as a site to practice one’s own culture or religion through music and sound but also to become immersed in and begin to understand others’ customs, contestations, and transformations between the international pilgrims and the local Spaniards characterize the route. The contemporary Camino is marked by a new emphasis on sustained spiritualities, encounters with transformed cultural heritage events, and heightened access to fleeting global-local interactions. Based on accounts of listening practices and interpretations of events, I first study how ritualized global musical encounters utilized cosmopolitan musical knowledge while simultaneously depending upon national difference to facilitate sentiments of communitas. Next, I examine how Catholic religious music delineated sacred places for the pilgrims, demarcating for them which sonic events were part of the Camino. Exploring religious festivals, I demonstrate how pilgrims were witnesses to Spanish cultural and musical practices that heightened the authenticity of the experience, as they ascribed varied levels of meaning and significance to places along the way. After arriving to Santiago, I investigate the ways politically charged performances and assertions of regional identities in Galicia expanded and interacted with the religious to signify locality and reterritorialize place. Finally, I end by exploring one particular song sung throughout the Camino and how its lyrics and history embody the many themes throughout this thesis.

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