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Abstract

In an effort to provide new ways of theorising pilgrimages as global encounters (White, 2012) and sites of cosmopolitan interactions, I offer a sound-centred investigation into inter-pilgrim musical events that occurred along the Camino de Santiago (Camino), a historically Catholic pilgrimage in northern Spain. This ethnomusicological perspective on the Camino highlights contemporary pilgrim rituals and artistic practices that are frequently overlooked in other Camino scholarship, which tends to focus on historical musics or the tangible arts. On the Camino, music primarily facilitates cross-cultural encounters for pilgrims, though at varied levels of mis/understandings. This paper explores the ways that participatory musicking (Small, 1998) connects international pilgrims who otherwise would not have come in contact with one another and reinforces the Camino’s Catholic heritage, despite the recent rise in non-religious walkers. The study is based on participant observation and autoethnographic engagement with musical rituals that occurred in two religious albergues (lodging for pilgrims) during the summer of 2019. Due to increased levels of fleeting global-local interactions between pilgrims, the twenty-first century Camino has become a site for cosmopolitan communal formations, although they are often constructed on the basis of language or nationality. Throughout my research, the religious albergues were significant social spaces for interactions across these barriers, as they emphasised communal evenings and activities involving Western popular or Catholically inspired musics after full days of walking alone. I argue that these participatory rituals utilised assumed cosmopolitan musical knowledges and religious backgrounds in order to create idealised senses of heightened community, conceptualised here in terms of Turnerian communitas. These encounters heavily relied on Western musical aesthetics in order to be meaningful for the pilgrims, and at the same time, national distinctions were constructed and broken down in order to create the feeling of a global pilgrim community. Communitas was only achievable after essentialised difference was first sounded, which it often occurred at the cost of excluding particular groups of pilgrims.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

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