Re-locating rural Portugal: Narrative clues to community and culture
Hill, Diana Louise Lourenco
Tyler, Stephen A.
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation describes the multiple ways in which the Portuguese place named Cavaleiro can be construed as a community in terms of local subjectivities, the social positioning which occurs in relation to broader cultural and political-economic processes and finally anthropologically. It focuses on everyday narratives as a communicative matrix through which we can recognize culture and in doing so foregrounds the mundane experience of the Cavaleirence. While European countries worry about losing their cultural autonomy I chose deliberately to look at the most minute details of situated knowledges and to listen to the generative power of everyday discourses. Chapter one focuses on the event of the dance which suggests itself as community, despite its meaning being both as ephemeral and visceral as the experience of the dance itself. In the second chapter, gossip is a narrative event which processually constructs the "truth" of community through the continual speculation on what is real, legitimate and worthy of attention. Chapter three focuses on the ways objects of material culture serve as reference points for social identity and reach beyond their value within economic exchange as agents in the shaping of local geography. All three chapters and approaches described here question the means and content of material and cultural exchange. Narrative is conceived as cultural work which produces a range of assets, including community itself. Community is shown to be the product of narrative devices which differentiate the individual and the group, the local and foreign, the relevant and irrelevant. These differences are never rigidly codified. The continuity of narrative facilitates but also constrain on-going negotiations which respond to changing circumstances, material cultural and passions. By way of conclusion, the fourth chapter elaborates on the traditions of scholarly inquiry which staged the questions I asked and informed my interpretations and strategy of writing. The chapter focuses on the work in anthropology and British Cultural Studies which led me to choose narrative and discourse as the focus for a study of culture and on some of the key terms of "New Ethnography."
Cultural anthropology; Sociology