The Things We Carry: Pilgrim Identity and Material Culture Along Spain’s Camino de Santiago

Publication Year:
2018
Usage 15
Abstract Views 10
Downloads 5
Repository URL:
https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/theses/697
Author(s):
Moore, Isabelle
Tags:
pilgrimage; material culture; Camino; identity; Spain; walking; Social and Cultural Anthropology
thesis / dissertation description
In recent decades, the mediaeval Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route has enjoyed a significant resurgence in popularity. Despite the route’s Christian heritage as “the way of St. James,” todays Camino-walkers present an impressive range of spiritual, physical, and personal motivations for undergoing the route. This modern twist on an ancient tradition has sparked an academic discussion surrounding what constitutes a “pilgrim” versus a “tourist,” including the ways in which people of different motivating identities experience heritage. I investigated this dichotomy by walking the Camino Frances and conducting ethnographic fieldwork from St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago, Spain. In an effort to narrow the scope of my data, I focused on the material items contemporary pilgrims carried, acquired, and abandoned or deposited along the way. In this way, I tell the story of the Camino through objects. My findings suggest that while pilgrims cited walking the Camino as both a transient and internally transformative experience, it is also an essentially material one. Indeed, I conclude that materiality plays a fundamental role in constructing and recreating individual Camino narratives alongside collective experiences of pilgrim identity.