Identity, Language, and Landscape in Galicia, Spain

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Department of Social Sciences


The vast majority of work on language and landscape in Geography focuses on the linguistic landscape, which studies the presence or absence of certain languages or dialects on the landscape. This paper goes beyond linguistic landscape to explore language as representation of landscape imaginary. Landscape acts as a powerful symbol, and can work to strengthen territorial identities, solidifying nations as separate entities, intimately connected to the land that they inhabit. This is true of the nation of Galicia, an historic community in the northwest of Spain, where the national landscape and language have come to be inextricably linked in the Galician imagination. In conducting interviews with Galician educators about the nature of their language and its meaning to them personally, an unprovoked link emerged between the language and the landscape, painting the two as essential foundations of Galician identity. Language and landscape are seen as linked foundational symbols in a display of difference between Galicia and Spain. This paper uses themes that emerged from these interviews to elaborate how the Galician language can be seen as a representation of a landscape imaginary.

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