Title: La Romería del Rocío: van een lokale celebratie naar een celebratie van lokaliteit. Transformaties en betekenisverschuivingen van een lokale collectieve bedevaart in Andalusië
Other Titles: La Romería del Rocío: From a Local Celebration to a Celebration of Locality. Transformations and changes of meaning of a local communal pilgrimage in Andalusia
Authors: Plasquy, Eddy
Issue Date: 3-May-2012
Abstract: The dissertation describes three changes that profoundly transformed the meaning of the popular communal pilgrimage in honour of the Virgin Mary of El Rocío over the last fifty years. It has in mind to bring these dynamics into prominence by seeking the systemic and evolutive features of the ritual. It further intends to reveal the underlying transformation mechanisms that are involved in this process.This romería takes place in El Rocío, a hamlet that is part of the municipality of Almonte, in the Andalusian Province of Huelva. The celebration occurs during the days before and after Whitsun. During this period, some tens of thousands pilgrims and visitors come together and change this hamlet, which is located on the edge of the Doñana nature reserve, into a vibrant city. This romería is without doubt the greatest in Spain, as to scale and fame. A particular feature of the romería is the important role that the local community still has in the organisation and the course of the procession, regardless of the impressive expansion of the event and the presence of more than hundred brotherhoods. Firstly, the Almontese brotherhood is respected as the head of the extensive network. Secondly, the Almontese men claim all the control during the spectacular and riotous procession. The fame of this romería has been an inspiration for a lot of Andalusian migrant communities from all over the world. For many decades, they have been organising parallel celebrations after the example of El Rocío. Since 1995, a Spanish cultural club organises a romería in honour of the Virgen del Rocío in Vilvoorde, Belgium. The local embedding of this celebration is very recognizable. In order to keep away from the “pitfalls” of an over-pronounced essentialism and localism, a culturalistic framework is consciously disassociated from the description of the celebration. At the same time, a stringent interpretation from a communitas paradigm as well as a contestation paradigm is avoided. As an alternative, the romería is conceived as a ‘cultural site’. This reorientation does not only create an interesting perspective to study the mobility and the processes of the re-territorialisation. It also allows us to put specific locations in a new perspective: as a junction of local and global dynamics instead of constructions of which the meaning is already determined. At the same time, a similar approach emphasizes the importance of a historic contextualisation of a diffuse network with global and local relations. A second feature of the study is the explicit attention for the participants. This has as a result that the romería is not only considered a reconstructed space, but also a creative space. The abundant diversity of the underlying dynamics was brought as much as possible into prominence. We did this by completing the ethnographic fieldwork with a historical research methods on the one hand, and, where possible, by supporting these qualitative research methods with quantifiable data, on the other hand. The theoretical frame is further completed with insights from the chaos and complexity theory. In particular, the dissipative transformation model of the chemist Ilya Prigogine. This model does not only have the ambition to describe the complexity of both natural and social phenomena, it also spends attention to the way the complexity of these systems increases. In such a way, it forms a perfect framework to bring the changes of meaning of the celebration into prominence as crucial turning points in the evolution of the ritual. After that, the specific phases in the various transformations can be described. Finally, it even becomes possible to give a meaningful interpretation to the observed increase of complexity. The changes that are being discussed are situated on three fields: In the first place within de ritual context of the celebration. It is known that since halfway the seventies, locals man drastic redressed the starting hour of the procession. The analysis of the quantitative data and qualitative descriptions shows that this not only transformed the liturgical order but also the role and the meaning of the Almontese man as local protagonists within the ritual. It is further documented that this process was enhances by the societal and political transition than Spain underwent when the Franco-dictatorship came to an end. The second field concerns the concrete meaning of the Maria-devotion in El Rocío. It zooms in on the expansionistic ambitions of the Almontese brotherhood. Specific attention goes out to newly European dimension of this network once a brotherhood in Brussels was recognized. It further deals with the creation of a new pilgrimage trail between Brussels and El Rocío – the so-called Camino Europeo – which connects in a symbolic way ten important sanctuaries of Mary in between the sites. The third field is based on the idea of the romería itself. It aims its attention to the origin of the romería of Vilvoorde and the way that its imported image grew into the patron saint of this local migrant community. Thanks to the celebration, the social life and the visibility of the community simultaneously gained momentum. These developments obviously refer to dynamics with which this community gives voice to its actual presence in Vilvoorde and its Spanish origin. From this point of view, the romería and the location of El Rocío do not appear to be examples that are being copied. They are rather parts of a free circulating ‘ethnoscape’ that hands out elements to amorphous Spanish migrant communities, in order to give shape to their local identity.Each of these transformations is characterized by a unique history of development and dynamics. Nevertheless, they are comparable because they all add a new dimension to the meaning of the celebration. For the tumultuous revolt, this means that the ‘local’ is an observable quality within the romería. In the process of the Europeanization, this leads to a redefinition of El Rocío as a centre of pilgrimage with an imaginary European space. The Maria devotion in El Rocío receives a pronouncedidealistic and archetypical status thanks to the parallel celebrations all over the world. In each of these cases, the celebration succeeds in adapting itself by attaining a higher level of complexity.As a result, each of these cases illustrate that it is possible to approach the dynamics of a ritual in a systemic and evolutive way. It makes it possible to: clarify the interaction between internal and external factors in a ritual; emphasize the influence of various transformation mechanisms; and assess the impact of accidental coincidences and events. As such, the research does not only wants to contribute to a further study of the phenomenon ‘romería’ in El Rocío, it also envision to create a larger insight in the way a ritual changes.
Table of Contents: Een woord van dank 5


2.1. La Tierra Santa de María 16
2.1.1. Het Spaans katholicisme 17
2.1.2. De Mariacultus in Zuid-Spanje 21
2.1.3. De religieuze volkscultuur 24
2.1.4. Romerías 27
2.1.5. Religieuze broederschappen 30
2.2. Romerías vanuit antropologisch perspectief 34
2.2.1. Exponenten van lokale identiteit 35
2.2.2. In het spanningsveld tussen volksdevotie en orthodoxie 38
2.2.3. Oscillerend tussen communitas en contestatie 40
2.2.4. El Rocío: een (on)dankbare casus 45
2.3. De romería in El Rocío: een complexe en dynamische realiteit 49
2.3.1. Een knooppunt van globaliserende en lokaliserende processen 49
2.3.2. Een geconstrueerde en creatieve ruimte 51
2.3.3. Een proces met onverwachte wendingen 53
2.4. Conclusies 56

3.1. Almonte en El Rocío 57
3.1.1. Geografische situering 57
3.1.2. Historische situering 63
3.2. De Mariadevotie in El Rocío in historisch perspectief 68
3.2.1. Een kapel in de marismas 69
3.2.2. Een enigmatisch beeld 72
3.2.3. Een beschermheilige voor het Almontese dorp 76
3.2.4. Een katholiek bastion in troebele tijden 78
3.2.5. Een broederschap in de overgang 84
3.2.6. Een lokale cultus in de lift 88
3.3. De Mariadevotie in Almonte 94
3.3.1. ‘Zij’ is deel van mijn familie 96
3.3.2. ‘Wij’ zijn haar kinderen 101
3.3.3. Het dorp beslist 106
3.4. Conclusies 108

4.1. Een lokaal evenement, at large 111
4.1.1. Alle wegen leiden naar El Rocío 111
4.1.2. De uittocht van een dorp 117
4.1.3. Het verblijf ter plaatse 121
4.2. Het officiële programma 124
4.2.1. De presentatie 124
4.2.2. De hoofdmis 127
4.2.3. De rozenkrans 128
4.2.4. De processie 130
4.3. Conclusies 139

5.1. Een moeilijk vatbaar proces 141
5.2. Betrouwbare gegevens 147
5.2.1. Een kwantitatief beeld 149
5.2.2. Een kwalitatief verhaal 154
5.3. Een dynamisch proces 168
5.3.1. Drie periodes, twee omslagfazen 170
5.3.2. Betekenisverschuivingen 174
5.4. Conclusies 177

6.1. De ambities van de Almontese broederschap 182
6.1.1. Een netwerk van broederschappen 183
6.1.2. Op regionaal niveau 186
6.1.3. Op nationaal niveau 189
6.2. De verlokking van Europa 193
6.2.1. Een broederschap in het hart van Europa 193
6.2.2. Een bedevaart als Europees project 198
6.2.3. Te voet van Koekelberg naar El Rocío 205
6.3. El Rocío en het prille Europese discours 210
6.3.1. Europa als ingebeelde ruimte 210
6.3.2. Brussel als symbolische vertrekplaats 212
6.3.3. El Rocío als concrete bestemming 214
6.4. Conclusies 215

7.1. Andalusische feesten in de emigratiecontext 219
7.1.1. De Andalusische emigratie 219
7.1.2. Andalusische feesten en vieringen 221
7.1.3. De romería van El Rocío als voorbeeld 223
7.1.4. Een essentialistisch verklaringsmodel ter discussie 226
7.2. Een romería in Vilvoorde 230
7.2.1. De Spaanse gemeenschap in Vilvoorde 231
7.2.2. Een onwaarschijnlijk begin 233
7.2.3. Een prestigieuze romería 238
7.3. Een grensverleggende dynamiek 244
7.3.1. De transformatie van het Mariabeeld 245
7.3.2. De celebratie als lokale katalysator 247
7.3.3. El Rocío als imaginair thuisland 250
7.4. Conclusies 253

8.1. Deterministische chaos en dissipatieve systemen 257
8.1.1. Complexe systemen en niet-lineair gedrag 257
8.1.2. Betekenis voor het antropologisch onderzoek 259
8.1.3. Fluctuaties, bifurcatiemomenten en historische gebeurtenissen 261
8.2. Een dissipatief veranderingmodel 265
8.2.1. Fasen van een transformatie 265
8.2.2. Het Almontees protagonisme in de expanderende romería 267
8.2.3. De herdefiniëring van El Rocío als Europees bedevaartscentum 270
8.2.4. El Rocío als efemere referentie 272
8.3. Emergentie en systeemevolutie 275
8.3.1. Emergentieniveau’s 275
8.3.2. Systeemdimensionaliteit 276
8.3.3. Toestandsruimten en attractoren 278
8.3.4. Systeemevolutie 280
8.4. Conclusies 282

9. BESLUIT 283

Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa

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