Author:Brian Campbell (University of Plymouth)
Paper short abstract:
Ceuta’s ideology of convivencia describes its Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish communities as all viably Spanish. I describe how convivencia is constituted through an elaborate government-sponsored economy of sharing and merging religious rituals that commit participants to mutual trust.
Paper long abstract:
Public media often depicts the Spanish enclave of Ceuta as a 'watch-dog' of Europe. Less attention has been devoted to the Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus that call Ceuta home. Ceuta's inhabitants are using the notion of convivencia to manage the enclave's mounting ethno-religious tensions by challenging the idea that only Christian-Castilians are truly Spaniards. Convivencia rather presents Ceuta, to outsiders and itself, as a 'melting pot' whose ethno-religious 'culturas' are all validly Spanish. This paper analyses how this re-imagining of Ceuta's demography is achieved through a system of ritual backed by a profitable economy of sponsorship. Ceuta's government encourages the culturas to form comunidades: property-owning institutions with formal membership. Comunidades receive funding if they invite the Ceutan public to take part in their religious rituals (e.g. Diwali, Semana Santa), maintain each others' shrines or merge different rites together. Ceuta's calendar is thus dotted with fantastic festivals that celebrate the religious compatibility of its culturas and commit participants to further foster inter-cultura 'understanding' and 'trust'. These rituals of/for convivencia discursively transform potentially divisive rituals into the rich, playful, diverse, heritage that belongs to - and constitutes - all Ceutans. Ceutans routinely question whether belief in other cosmologies is required for convivencia and worry how its many internal contradictions often collapse into political crisis. However, they also insist convivencia remains the only real model that averts the dangers of mono-cultural Spanishness while securing steady funding from Madrid's government, convinced that globalizing Spain can only profit from Ceuta's experiments with multiculturalism.
Unity in diversity? Anthropological reflections on interreligious devotion and dialogue in Europe [Anthropology of Religion Network]