Monday, October 08, 2007

Very smooth trip from Pontevedra to Asturias/Cantabria last night, assisted by the opening of some new bits of the excellent A8 autovia along the Cantabrian coast. I have to admit I find the Asturian and Cantabrian countryside and architecture even prettier than those of Galicia.

Stopped overnight at a little town called Villaviciosa. Delightful place but it didn't remotely live up to its name. Very disappointing.

If I hadn't known I was in Asturias, I might have guessed it from the 9 pages in this morning's local paper on the local hero and his success in yesterday's Formula 1 race in China. Before this, he had been complaining that he didn't trust his engineers and had effectively accused them of sabotage. After it, he was all smiles. The headline on one paper read "Miracles can happen" but, to my surprise, it turned out not to be about Alonso's decision to stop moaning and whingeing. As I've said before, I do hope he wins the championship and all the nonsense can stop.

It continues to amaze me just how some readers can take an innocuous remark about Arabian culture being one of the many influences on modern Spain and distort it into a 'racist' remark that all Spaniards are Arabs and a view that Africa begins at the Pyrenees. This, of course, is independent of the accuracy or otherwise - and it seems to be otherwise - of my comment about domes. Very sad really. And it surely says something about the sensitivity of some people. And, of course, about their attitudes to Arabs and Muslims. I wonder just how many of them have any experience at all of life outside Spain. Or even outside their village.

22 comments:

Gabriel said...

I have traveled extensively and I have to agree with Colin that there are parallels between life/culture in Spain & the Middle East. I felt "at home" as a Spaniard in Egypt -- the immense emphasis on hospitality, the late dinners and socializing in street cafes, the rituals around eating and coffee, etc. I did not in any way see this connection as a negative.

Of course, there were many notable differences between the cultures and peoples. And, for example, I found very little commonality with Saudi Arabian culture or people, so I don't think the connection spans the entire Middle East.
(That said, I have also felt at home in Italy and France.)

What I don't understand is how Spanish commentators can say that people who lived in Spain for nearly 800 years (Moors) were not "Spanish?" Can a group of people be foreign after 35 generations? And can anyone truly believe the presence of millions of Arabs, Berbers and North Africans didn't leave a genetic imprint on Spain?

I worked in a Middle Eastern Studies department at a university in New York – the visiting Arab professors always assumed I was from their countries (everything from Syria to Morocco). The Israeli faculty assumed I was a Sephardic Jew. I took this as a compliment!

Both my parents are Galician and while parts of my family are fair skinned (Celtic, if you like, although I think they're more likely Vandals!), I am a classic Spanish "moreno." Doesn't that term come from "moro?" Shouldn't that etymology tells us we have Moorish blood?

I have also been confused for Greek, Italian, Portuguese and upper caste Indian. Again, I don't find this offensive...it is a testament to the flux of humanity in and around the Mediterranean basin. (And, yes, I know Galicia is not a Mediterranean land...)

Also, if we're going to insist that others recognized the differences among Spanish cultures, let's not mix "Arab" and "Muslim" and "Moor" as though they were interchangeable. No Iranian or Afghan Muslim wants to be thought of as an Arab -- "Muslim" represents a wide gamut of ethnicities many of whom do not use Arabic as a first language.

As for anti-British feeling, well what can you expect? First of all, any people are going to be sensitive when an outsider (in this case a Brit) comments on their society. That's a given and I think Colin accepts it. Plus the Spanish and British have longstanding historical antagonisms which have only recently been put aside. More recently British treatment of Spanish immigrants (see "Faulty Towers") and the advent of the "ugly" British tourist in many parts of Spain have added fuel to the fire.

But if you read Colin's blog closely, you will see he is thoughtful and appreciative of Spanish culture, not some beer swilling drunk who insists that menus be printed in English. Besides, with the weak dollar my New York neighborhood is flooded with European tourists and I can tell you that every country has "ugly" tourists and the Spaniards who scream at Latino service people in this city are no exception.

On the architecture debate: I have always read that the dome is of Latin origin, not Arab. Also, I used to believe the horseshoe arch was a Moorish invention, but a historian on the Camino de Santiago convincingly explained it was a Visigothic architectural element that was adopted and expanded upon by the Moors.

El Lusitano said...

Gabriel, I think you are wrong in several aspects. Curiously its always you, people in love with arab culture who tend to over exagerate influences. Is a kind of stockholm syndrome.

There is not a "culture gene", this means that if you feel so confortable with easterns that SURELY has nothing to do with common genes, common past, etc..

In fact you will surely feel very confortable with french, italians, mexicans,peruvians, canadians or even hutus and tutsies and that doesnt mean you share a past with them. What you are experiencing is a subjective suggestion, not an objective reasoning.

I can tell you I personally feeled quite confortable with senegalese as they are very hospitable and invite you to their homes spontaneously. I never thought nevertheless there was any kind of special connection with them.

With respect to genetic imprint this is an already answered question. Genetic analysis performed by genetists show that genetic imprint of north africans on spaniards is minor (around 5% on average) and surely minor enough not to be seen fenotipically (on complexions using common language).There are clear historical and cultural reasons behind this small genetic imprint, but this is another debate. We spaniards are basically of paleolithic stock. Dark complexions in Spain are not related with moors but with paleolithic people: Just exacly as in the case of portuguese, italians ans southern french. What is important to state is that all western europe is 80% homogeneous from a genetical point of view, as this paleolithic substrate is commonly shared as haplotype Rb1. And of course "moreno" doesnt at all come from "moro". Look is just the contrary. "Moro" comes from greek "mauro" meaning obscure.

Do you see how well things that seem apparently to be connected to the eyes of non experts are NOT CONNECTED AT ALL?

With respect to the question of if ancient moors were or not spaniards with present mentality you would say yes, as they were born in Spain.

BUT with the religious and non democratic mentality of those ages of course they were NOT considered true spaniards. In fact historians have demonstrated that moriscos (the last moorish remmnants in Spain that were finally expelled)didnt feel of themselves like being spaniards but beign MUSLIMS. In fact if you understand a bit about arabic world you will see that nationality is less important for them that religion. They feel a community in religion: they are MUSLIMS at the first place before beign moroccans, algerians, or egyptians. So these moriscos or moors dreamed of a return of the muslims into Spain and in fact didnt integrate within the official spanish culture and were endogamic, not mixing with the rest of population just exactly like the gypsys with which they were frequently mistaken.

They were expelled because they didnt integrate and because they were spies of the berberic pirates hence going against general spanish interests.

With respect to the horseshoe arch is not of visigothic influence. It is in fact of pre-romanic influence as was already used by ancient iberians centuries before christ. Visigoths only adopted this element and introduced it in their buildings as you clearly see in Santa Maria de Melque in Toledo.

So things are never what they seem to be ehhh?. Please, try to be at least a bit more objective next time.

g.a.h. said...

I totally agree with el lusitano. Gabriel is a typical example of distortion caused by over exaggeration and over suggestion mixed with a bit of ignorance. He is totally wrong only he feels hes right.

These people like Gabriel were the kind of people talking about Spain on XIX century with the sad result of highly distorted and wrong visions of Spain over exaggerated and scientifically unfounded.

Colin don't you think it is really impressive how the power of suggestion can blurr our minds?

g.a.h. said...

So Mr. Colin could you be so kind with us poor spanish ignorant mortals to tell us which are those lots of things you see in spaniards that remind you of middle easterns? . Or are you too much afraid to be wrong again and again like Gabriel?.

Do you think it is difficult for me, as an anthropologyst, to produce a list with lots and lots of things in british that remind russians, indians, chinese, coreans, or southafricans?

Duardón de Albaredo said...

And can anyone truly believe the presence of millions of Arabs, Berbers and North Africans didn't leave a genetic imprint on Spain?

This is an authentic aberration. I mean the “millions” thing. You clearly don’t have a clue about Middle Ages demographics. Did you know that England had only like 3 million inhabitants only some centuries ago (3 or 4)? This applies to France, Spain et al. We only can witness mass population movements after the Industrial Revolution. No “millions” before that event. It’s crazy.

Anyway, as far as I know when the expulsion of the “moriscos” happened (1642?), we are talking about around 200,000 people. These are rational, documented numbers.

And I don’t agree. They were not Spanish (by the way, the concept nationality did not exist at that epoch). They were invaders (a ruling elite). And of course we did a great thing when we managed to kick them out. That’s what you usually do when someone invades your home (ask Iraqis) :P

And one more guy obsessed about the “genes” and “race”. Venga, únete a la fiesta! When are you people going to finally understand that the “genes & races” are NOT a rationale, variable?! Dr. Mengele ist kaput! Hai capito? Talking about this shit is just like talking about “Paris Hilton doing a fellatio in a random WC”. Arses and tits stories. Who really cares? The professional gossips, so what? Why are you so interested about the sexual life of already dead females? Because you are precisely talking about that, for fuck’s sake! And some people call this poison “science”...

Anonymous said...

"Do you think it is difficult for me, as an anthropologyst, to produce a list with lots and lots of things in british that remind russians, indians, chinese, coreans, or southafricans?"
something like this ?
http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/0710_prince_harry_snorts_vodka.shtml

Anonymous said...

upss sorry
http://tinyurl.com/2c9phw

gabriel said...

I am actually in agreement with Duardon that race is not a scientific category despite Lusitano's use of scientific jargon. And although DNA technology allows people to trace SOME of their ancestry, his ranting reeks of racism.

Which is precisely why my observations on feeling "at home" in certain places was meant to be subjective, not scientific. Surely that was understood? This is not a textbook where I can expound of every statement with footnotes -- generalizations can sometimes be shortcuts gentlemen.

I do not claim to be an expert on anthropology, but I think exposure to other cultures can reveal commonalities even in us "ignorant" lay people.

Still, I find it revealing that you so ADAMANTLY disagree with some of my observations while ignoring so much of what I wrote. Why are you so strongly offended by the idea that the Moorish era in Spain left imprints? I am not saying, Spain is an Arab or Muslim culture, just that it retains some influences.

Do you guys realize that you come across as fanatics? Are you afraid that you might not be totally "white" or "European?"

And, seriously, "Stockholm syndrome?" Are you suggesting I am a captive of Muslim culture? What an odd comment! I worked by the Twin Towers on September 11, so I am aware of the ugly side of Islam, but I still see most of the Muslims here as decent people who are trying to make a good life for themselves.

Do the Moors get no credit from you guys? Didn't they (via Spain) help catapult Europe out of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance by both introducing new concepts and re-introducing important Classical concepts into European culture?

(BTW, my reference to "millions" was not to those who originally hopped over to Gibraltar or were later expelled, but to the millions of souls who undoubtedly were born and lived in Spain over a 700+ year period.)

I had never heard that the horsehoe arch was an invention of the ancient Iberians and I have doubts about that claim, but I'd like to learn more -- any suggested readings? It does make some sense : didn't the Iberians come to Spain from the Eastern Mediterranean via North Africa? I'm sure Lusitano will expound on the alternate theory which emphasizes the Iberians' European origins since he feels it is so "important" for current day Iberians to identify as Europeans.

Besides, unless those people of European ancestry in Spain, Italy, France, etc. start having more babies, they will not retain the supposed "80% homogeneity' that is so close to your heart.

Duardón de Albaredo said...

Gabriel, if you are Galician I am the Archangel Gabriel... In fact I guess you are a regular contributor in the White Aryan Tossers site.

Why? Only a racist would say "I'm sure Lusitano will expound on the alternate theory which emphasizes the Iberians' European origins since he feels it is so "important" for current day Iberians to identify as Europeans". Which makes me think that you should learn some geography... New York, you said? Humm... Americans are quite bad at it. Well known. Does this info ring a bell?

In fact, in case you didn't know there were NO Iberians in Portugal ;)

Had you read the Classic authors you would know there were Iberians only in the South of Spain, the Mediterranean Coast AND in the South of France as well (Mediterranean region). But since geography is not your strong point, I will have to tell you that Portugal is in the west of the Iberian Peninsula. Sorry, mate, NO Iberian tribes there ;)

And of course, in case you didn’t know, the “Iberians coming from Africa” is as well a racially motivated theory. You should recheck your sources, I suspect... Or read something about historiography... You need a clue? XIX century... Imperialism, colonialism, invention of “scientific racism”, “Social Darwinism” and so on...

Anyway, in a sense you are indeed right: the Iberians might come from Africa since that’s where the Homo Sapiens Sapiens comes from :P

Good wind up, eh?

Luis said...

And I do hope the miracle worker wins the title.

He deserves it. Mr Whiter-than-white has given the same opportunities to everyone, but the new Senna has only made one mistake in the whole year.

I am sure it will not be very difficult for him to win in Brazil, since in the last Q3 he beated Alonso by 0.6s. And as Dennis explained, "Alonso did a good lap for his skills", nothing to do with this. Such a difference in talent cannot be ignored.

PS. Note that the links are either English or French. No Spanish crazy theories.

Duardón de Albaredo said...

Great, Luis... We are trying to reduce road mortality (er... speed and alcohol) so that's exactly what we need. Young millionaires driving at 300 km/h who celebrate their victories with champagne...

luis said...

I don't like the F1 either, but I hate the politics and the way the media create new heroes and villains.

Duardón de Albaredo said...

Luis, I was of course being sarcastic :)

To be honest, I saw this gag in Los Guiñoles de Canal +. Fernando "Soy Muy Modesto" Alonso when he became world champion: "eso, vosotros jaleadme, que voy a 300 por hora y lo celebro con champán...! menudo ejemplo para la juventud!!". Lo bordaron :P

gabriel said...

Duardon,

I can't tell if you're just mean-spirited and so enjoy twisting what others write or if your comprehension is too limited for you to understand my point.

Obviously I've hit a nerve with you! But I will retire from this debate as you are hell bent on name-calling and race-baiting...clear signs that you believe you have lost the argument (or worse, totally misinterpreted it).

El Lusitano said...

“And can anyone truly believe the presence of millions of Arabs, Berbers and North Africans didn't leave a genetic imprint on Spain?”

I hate going into the "race" issue, as it is an old concept that reminds me of XIX century racist theories but...

There are mainly 3 reasons that explain the minor north african genetical imprint on spaniards:

1) Invadiers were small numbers compared with the bulk of hispanorroman (or visigothic if you prefer) population. Historians manage the following numbers. About 50.000 arabs conforming the ruling elite plus about 100.000-150.000 berbers conforming the invadiers army versus 5 to 6 MILLION hispanorromans. In those times an army of 50.000-100.000 soldiers was enough to conquer a whole country.

2) These arabs were the ruling elite as I already said and were very proud of their religion and racial origins. They considered hispanorromans to be IMPURE and didnt mixed with them (at least not massively like some racist nordicist say in racist webpages). Nowadays it is more difficult to understand this way of thinking, but in those times people thought quite differently and were much more religious driven.A lot of racial prejudices existed. Well, see that nowadays muslims are still very much religious driven and that if the daugther or son of a muslim living in Europe tries to marry an european he/she is repudiated and deserves death as they still consider europeans as impure people, much more if they confess to be atheist as muslims cant conceive a life without Allah.

So there was a cultural factor preventing massive racial mixing just exactly like nowadays: you can see that northafrican immigrants living and working in Europe dont interbreed nor integrate with native population and they are much more numbers than their invaders ancestors centuries ago.

3) They were massively forced out into north Africa again. Some (about 100.000-200.000) remained as "mudejares" and 2 centuries later were driven out as "moriscos".

With respect to Iberians being or not europeans anthopologysts presently think iberians were cromagnon paleolithic populations occupying the north african rim.We are talking about several thousands of years ago meaning that then there were of course no traces of arabs nor the present camitic and subsaharan populations in that northafrican area and that we had still NEANDERTHALS living in Europe.

Then climate changed and temperatures rised obliging this iberians to migrate to the north, occupying southern Europe. Subsaharans occupied then this north african fringe. Berbers are considered to be remmnants of some of these iberians that didnt migrate north. Of course present berbers are very much mixed with camites and arabs, but "pure" berbers should resemble very much to those original iberians.

These Iberians are considered to be the first cromagnon europeans and hence THE FIRST EUROPEANS OF OUR PRESENT HUMAN SPECIE, or aboriginal europeans if you like it. They were carriers of haplotype Rb1 the most widely extended in Europe typical of present europeans and that distinguish us europeans from other populations.

Basques are considered to be remmants of these very old iberic populations. May be an iberian looked like a present "pure" basque(only may be).

Iberians were a highly developed culture as the miths of Tartessos demonstrate. When romans arrived to south Spain they didnt find primitive natives at all. This ancient iberic culture is the origin of the horseshoe arch and the primitive flamenco (yes, flamenco is not arab at all my dear friends!) between other cultural influences.

So I am not only defending the europeaness of Iberians but in fact stating that these iberians ARE THE FIRST EUROPEANS!!!.

Now if you dont believe me you are free to read directly from the experts.

Anonymous said...

Visigoths were a very primitive people. They didnt invent nothing and their architecture was very primitive as well incorporating iberian elements like the horseshoe arch.

Moriscos were much less than 200.000. The number of 50.000 is much more accurate.

Anonymous said...

MABURRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Teño que recoñecer que sin Colin aka SuperGalegoman este blog perde moito.
Tribus, vandalos, e moros e africanos mezclados con F1.
Nivelazo.
Botase de menos ese tratatamento cinico non exento de fino e hipocrita humor british trufado de esa indisimulada superioridade victoriana.
Agardomolo seu pronto regreso inzado de novos e neocoloniales folgos para nos sorprender con abriantes renovadas parvadiñas.

Anonymous said...

Tienes razón anonimo galegiño. Y por qué coños hay que seguir escribiendo en inglés?. Que colin aprenda español o gallego que ya va siendo hora digo yo.

Aunque esa anglosajona estirada, propotente, racista, elitista y victoriana educación que sin duda ha recibido nuestro inestimable amigo Colin dada su edad, seguro que le impedirá escribir ni una sola palabra, no vaya a contaminarse con nuestros primitivos y salvajes idiomas ibéricos islámicos.

Este vino aquí buscando sunnitas y chiitas (vaya a saber usted por qué)y como no los encuentra ni debajo de las setas se ha dedicado a las sangrías, mariscos y a los pulpos a feira. Pero no se va a Arabia saudi o a Irak a buscar a sus amados musulmanes, no, que vá. Este se queda.

Se ve que en esta iberica monarquia arabigo-islamica llamada España no se debe vivir tan mal.Digo yo.

El Lusitano said...

n the present study we have analyzed 44 Y-chromosome biallelic polymorphisms in population samples from northwestern (NW) Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, which allowed us to place each chromosome unequivocally in a phylogenetic tree based on >150 polymorphisms. The most striking results are that contemporary NW African and Iberian populations were found to have originated from distinctly different patrilineages and that the Strait of Gibraltar seems to have acted as a strong (although not complete) barrier to gene flow. In NW African populations, an Upper Paleolithic colonization that probably had its origin in eastern Africa contributed 75% of the current gene pool. In comparison, sim78% of contemporary Iberian Y chromosomes originated in an Upper Paleolithic expansion from western Asia, along the northern rim of the Mediterranean basin. Smaller contributions to these gene pools (constituting 13% of Y chromosomes in NW Africa and 10% of Y chromosomes in Iberia) came from the Middle East during the Neolithic and, during subsequent gene flow, from Sub-Saharan to NW Africa. Finally, bidirectional gene flow across the Strait of Gibraltar has been detected: the genetic contribution of European Y chromosomes to the NW African gene pool is estimated at 4%, and NW African populations may have contributed 7% of Iberian Y chromosomes. The Islamic rule of Spain, which began in a.d. 711 and lasted almost 8 centuries, left only a minor contribution to the current Iberian Y-chromosome pool. The high-resolution analysis of the Y chromosome allows us to separate successive migratory components and to precisely quantify each historical layer.

http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/resolve?id=doi:10.1086/319521

Anonymous said...

Home anonimo españoleiro eu tampouco diria tanto ...
Mais que razon, esta vez, o que tiña eu era mala hostia retranqueira.
Recoñezo que divirteme zouparlle no seu estirado lombo ingles de ves en cando.
E que no fondo, moi alo no fondo o Colin non me cae mal de todo, hai un galicianist por ahi agochado que faremolo agromar a paus ;)

Colin said...

"Curiously its always you, people in love with arab culture who tend to over exagerate influences. Is a kind of stockholm syndrome."

Well, I've had to endure some bizarre comments but this has to take the biscuit.

I think it's time to put a stop to this nonsense. More anon.

Anonymous said...

what's an españoleiro?
not quite familiar with gallego terminology I'm afraid.
do I detect the presence of the dreaded mano peluda nacionalista in your words? the guy was inviting you to share some common ground with him, albeit in castellano, & you respond in gallego. how bloody rude is that?