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Accepted Paper:

Connecting Past & Present Injustices to Pass Along Resistance: An Andalusian Moors & Christians festival as a commons  
Elaine McIlwraith (The University of Western Ontario)

Paper short abstract:

A unique Moors & Christians festival in Andalusia engages in symbolic violence to connect the town’s historical trajectory of repression to ongoing injustices. Imagined as a commons, the festival is used to create community & instill the resistant character of past inhabitants in future generations.

Paper long abstract:

Imagined as a commons, a unique version of the Moors & Christians festival in eastern Andalusia (Spain) defies this festival’s more well-known representations by engaging in symbolic violence in ways that connects its community’s varied historical trajectory of repression and resistance to ongoing local and societal injustices. While seemingly paradoxical, its participants use the festival, characterised by traditional fighting, to promote the senselessness of societal division and violence alongside values of brotherhood and dialogue. Based on a decade of field research at these festivals, I consider the ways in which this festival fosters community; provides a social and cultural anchoring to the town for both permanent residents and those forced to emigrate elsewhere; and establishes social ties to assure a sense of belonging for future generations of the town’s present and former inhabitants, to root the former in local values, knowledge and the resilient character of its autochthonous people. Through the festival, this characteristic of resistance to dominant powers and the town’s various histories of repression – the subjugation of its medieval Muslims; the many dissidents executed in town by fascist troops; the current struggle to exhume their bones from the town’s mass graves; and the disenfranchisement of local livelihoods as a result of both fascist and neoliberal policies – become interwoven, united in elements such as spoken narratives and the meaning given to the traditional fighting. However, like the many festivals that underpin Spanish social life, this process of commoning, because of its physicality, becomes threatened by pandemic restrictions.

Panel P019a
The everyday politics of the commons and social movements I
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -