Turigriños Go Home

Sharon R. Roseman

PHTO.2-RosemanFigure 1. Turigriños Go Home
Taken on July 1, 2008 with a Nikon Coolpix P2 digital camera in Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Source: Roseman, 2008.

In the midst of the severe economic recession, people were still digesting the results of the March 9, 2008 general elections for the parliament of the Spanish state and the lead-up to early 2009 elections for the government of the Autonomous Community of Galicia. The graffito’s angry content was amplified by its location on a street leading to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Crowds looking for sustenance and souvenirs contrasted with the pall of economic and political anxiety elsewhere in the city.

The neologisms yelling at them from the stone building were rendered in the Galician language. ‘Tourist-pilgrim’ combined turi- for turista in both Galician and Castilian (Spanish), and –griño from a – in this case parodic – use of the Galician diminutive for the last part of peregrino, for pilgrim. As is common with such public street writing, the word play is central. Peregrino/a is found in both Castilian and Galician. Synonyms include romeiro/a and also pelegrin/a found in historical dictionaries and other texts (e.g. Santamarina 2006-2013).

Less familiar and more contemptuous, the suffix ‘-iño’ Galicianized the Castilian term mangurrino for a “rotten” or worthless” person (Collins Spanish Dictionary, 2005). Relevant synonyms include mangante for a parasitical person and mangoleteiro for someone who does not like to work (Gran Dicionario Século 21 da Lingua Galega, 2005, p. 797).

Turigriño, mangurriño: the combination of the two evokes the long-standing “Tourist go home” (parodied in Jackson and Weyman, 1959).

This shot was taken at one of the thresholds to the Old Town, in a sort of borderland (Anzaldúa, 1987). I have been taking photographs of graffiti – communicating reprimands, alarm, self-critical humour, and outrage – in Santiago de Compostela since the early 1990s. I regularly find fresh examples outside of the Old Town – a UNESCO World Heritage site, designated as a European Capital/City of Culture in 2000. In this case, there was something about its location – and perhaps the failed or half-hearted attempt to remove it – that signalled matter-almost-out-of-place (Douglas, 1966, pp. 35-36).

Tourism and heritage can be political flashpoints in places such as Galicia where they are seen by some as having fueled property speculation and replaced industrial and public service employment with low income, insecure, and often seasonal jobs. There is also ambivalence on both the political Left and Right specifically about who has benefitted from the revival of the The Way of St. James, the Medieval walking pilgrimage to Santiago. One resentment involves self-declared travellers who mascarade as pilgrims, staying for free in hostels meant for those engaged in sincere, spiritual quests (e.g. Frey, 1998).

The presence, motivations, and activities of sojourners cannot be extricated from local politics. The vilification of visitors in Galician neologisms constitutes one among many efforts to claim a stake in a politicized landscape directed at local voters as much as at incoming tourists and pilgrims (Roseman and Fife, 2008). To Galicians, the Cidade Vella (Old Town) is a canvas for forms of political action and political talk even if, historically, graffiti on its heritage buildings has been less prevalent than what one finds in newer parts of the city and, when composed, has been more rapidly removed.

An increase in strategically-placed, anti-tourism pintadas by specific political entities as well as by anonymous authors began to be reported in news stories at the time when I took this photograph. On September 1, 2008, a municipal political party pushed for sanctions against the group Assembleia da Mocidade Independentista (AMI) that had signed such grafitti in Sada, home of a popular beach near the city of A Coruña (La Opinión Coruña, 2008). It is certainly probable that they also authored this grafitto that I photographed in Santiago de Compostela.

On May 15, 2011, protests by Indignad@s against the economic crisis, corruption, and neoliberal capitalism organized by networks such as the Plataforma ¡Democracia Real YA! (Real Democracy Now! Platform) and Juventud SIN Futuro (Youth without a Future) moved into public squares in Spain. In Santiago, meetings and camp-outs began in the Praza do Obradoiro, the square in front of the cathedral. Pilgrim-tourists and tourist-pilgrims (e.g. Smith, 1992) had no other choice than to witness activists’ messages, in this case relayed in portable signs and oral speech rather than on heritage structures.

Since 2008, some targetting of Galician heritage and tourism sites with grafitti has continued (e.g. Faro de Vigo, 2011; Gómez, 2013). Many, in contrast, silently note the irony of their localities being emptied of workers who must migrate to find a livelihood just as these same spaces continue to provide sanctuary for visitors (Roseman 2013). In sum, the spatialities produced by the passage of visitors can become a backdrop that sharpens broader political discussions (Lefebvre, 1991). In July, 2008, who were the mangurriños? The so-called tourist-pilgrims, or those locals whose promotion of heritage primarily for the benefit of outsiders might be seen by a sometimes vocal minority as a form of trespassing?


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Sharon R. Roseman
Professor, Department of Anthropology, Memorial University Academic Editor, ISER Books