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  • A Companion to Galician Culture ed. by Helena Miguélez-Carballeira
  • María Elena Soliño
Miguélez-Carballeira, Helena, ed. A Companion to Galician Culture. Serie A: Monografías, 344. Woodbridge, UK: Tamesis, 2014. 233 pp. ISBN: 978-185566-277-3.

True to its title, this collection of essays edited by Helena Miguélez-Carballeira provides an overview of Galician culture that expertly manages to inform the reader new to the topic, while simultaneously offering the expert in-depth studies. As stated in the introduction, one of the aims of the collection is to highlight the work of scholars working in Galicia, some presented in translation, putting them in dialog with international scholarship, here mainly from the UK. Given the drastic cuts in financing for the humanities in present-day Galicia and the rising interest by British and American researchers, the collection of essays avoids the trap of writing about Galicia exclusively from the outside.

The introduction by Miguélez-Carballeira uses the coverage of the train crash that took place outside Santiago de Compostela in 2013 as the starting point to analyze how Galicia has been "profoundly mediated by the dynamics of political, economic and cultural inequities throughout the centuries" (2). The chapter goes on to trace the development of a Galician nationalist movement led by Manuel Murguía in the nineteenth century. This topic is expanded in chapter nine, also authored by Miguélez-Carballeira, on "Rosalía de Castro: Life, Text and Afterlife." Here the aim is to separate the Rosalía who was constructed as an allegory of the nation, from the woman whose life and works are overshadowed by ideology.

Santiago Gutiérrez García's "Clerics, Troubadours and Damsels: Galician Literature and Written Culture during the Middle Ages" contextualizes the place of Galieia [End Page 215] within the Iberian kingdoms in the X-XII centuries, forging links between the Galician/Portuguese lyric tradition and Oeeitane. Compostela is explained as an "intellectual powerhouse" (15) and Galicia as the kingdom that produced the first literary tradition in a Romance language on the Peninsula. This same tradition was rediscovered in the Rexurdimento and used in the formation of a national literary canon that would later inspire the neo trobadorismo of Galician poets from Cun-queiro to Blanco Amor.

In "Contemporary Galicia: From Agrarian Crisis to High-Speed Trains" Xosé Ramón Vega takes the railway as a "metaphor for Galicia's recent history" (14). The railroad broke Galicia's geographical isolation. Drawing connections between politics and the rise and fall of agrarian and industrial movements, Vega traces the history of economic development, or lack thereof, in Galicia. Likewise examining Galician cultural history across centuries, María Liñeira's "Santiago de Compostela: Fact and Fetish" analyses the city as the "key site of idealized Galician identity" (53-4). She explores elements of Santiago's history that were modified over time, highlighting Franco's use of the city as a spiritual center, to its repackaging for the modern tourism industry. Bernadette O'Rourke in "The Galician Language in the Twenty-First Century" gives a broad overview of the history of the Galician language, which had long been relegated for use exclusively in the private sphere.

José Colmeiro's "Bagpipes, Bouzoukis and Bodhráns: The Reinvention of Gali-cian Folk Music" is one of the essays here that links present day cultural productions with an exploration of the past, as well as an effort to incorporate outside elements. Colmeiro examines the parallels between the redefinition of folk music and the social and political movements from the mid 1970s onward. Links to the pan-Celtic music scene has positioned musicians like Emilio Cao, Milladoiro and Luar na Lubre for success on a larger stage. These musicians reflect present day Galicia as they also revive connections to medieval heritage as well as folk traditions. Xurxo Ayán Vila's "Galician Architecture: From Foundations to Roof" sets the foundation of Galician architecture in the castros, that continued through the Roman era even as larger, unfortified villae developed alongside military establishments. Ayán Vila reads the emergence of outside architectural influences such as the construction of castles and later, less...


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pp. 215-217
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