Updated: Nov 10, 2021
I apologize for the sudden long absence. As you probably know, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all travel was suspended and US travelers were sent back to the US. Unfortunately for me, I did not have enough information to complete my research paper and never ended up making it outside of Spain. However, before all of this happened, I was able to make it to a few more brañas. I will be posting them in the next few weeks and then translating them all to Spanish, like I planned to do before.
It is unlikely I will be able to return to finish that particular research paper, however, I will probably be returning to Spain in the next few years and might get the chance to document some more brañas.
This blog was planned to be a record of my travels (oops) but also, I wanted to use my circumstances and privilege as a young English-speaking university-educated Vaqueira to make a wider audience aware of Vaqueiros and Vaqueiro issues. I don't want my culture to die. When I began heavily researching Vaqueiros, I found many issues that had been written about shortly in the media and were quickly forgotten about. I found accounts in old documents and books that I could find nowhere else, of the diversity and individuality of our culture, and of the injustices, many that still affect Vaqueiros today, that have been written out of the official historical record.
With the end of segregation of Vaqueiros in what seems to be the 1970s or 80s, many people, including many Vaqueiros themselves, believe that Vaqueiros face no discrimination and no threat today, but entire peoples do not experience such a large decline of population out of nowhere. All of Spain, save for the large cities, has experienced a huge decline in population, and my professor wanted me to write in my paper why the population decline in Vaqueiros differs from the population decline in Teruel or Soria. I could write a whole long blog post about this, and maybe one day I will, but I think I can sum it up in a few sentences: The population decline and cultural abandonment of Vaqueiros is the result of hundreds of years of oppression, neglect, and slow violence, as defined by Rob Nixon, against our population as 'others' and as a 'cursed race'. As someone who lives in the US, I know well that hundreds of years being seen as inferiors and second class doesn't end overnight. Vaqueiros do not stop experiencing the effects of their past because xaldos no longer force them to sit at the back of the church.
The first articles I read were this was acknowledged were the articles of Gonzalo Gayo, who linked the environmental inequality and cultural decline Vaqueiros are experiencing with our status as a native minority group. They are fantastic articles and though most of them are ten years old, they are every bit as applicable now as they were then and deserve so much attention. So this is a very long post to say that I will post the brañas I have now, and I will post some opinion posts, maybe some Vaqueiro news if I feel like it. Even if I just post the brañas and do not update beyond there, I intend to keep this blog up to provide English information about the Vaqueiros, because next to none exists, and a view on Vaqueiro issues as a Vaqueira in the diaspora, learning about the history of violence and oppression in other communities.
I'll have the next part of the post on Somiedo up hopefully tomorrow or the next few days. And in recent events, if you are able to, consider donating to one of these organizations or funds: