Galician Culture and History on WordPress with Tim Ginty

I’m drawn to places very easily. It could be the way I feel while there, or something read or imagined about the history or contemporary culture of the place. I start daydreaming about what life would’ve been like in the recent or distant past and what it might look like years from now.

What has changed recently is my desire to understand these places through the perspective of others rather than facts and dates. And so, I’m interested in reading more about my new home of Galicia much more than what’s happening in U.S. politics for example.

Other than Wikipedia and information about walking the Camino de Santiago, I don’t see much blogging on Galicia in English. While I can read castellano, it does not come as easy yet, and I struggle with written conjugated verb forms and less-frequently used vocabulary, slowing down my progress.

So I was delighted to stumble onto Tim Ginty’s blog Lives and Times this morning. He has a few posts about Galicia from last year:

  • Unearthing Gallaecia: The Ruins of Monte O Facho for an overview of castro culture, their subsequent romanization by the Roman legions, the unique syncretism of the society it produced, as well as photos of O Facho. “Even today, in Galicia there still exist signs of this fusion of Latin and Pagan, hints of a latent indigenous culture found in their Carnivals and Solstice celebrations, and in their mythology of mouras (siren-like women of the forest) and stories of meigas (witches).”
  • A Conversation with César Lema: On a Rural Return for a window into Lema’s worldview on communalism in rural Galicia and within the long-arc of history, the possibility of utopias. “Modernity, in contrast, offers an atomised community and alienated production, living beside people you might not even know and working to generate a profit you will never possess – that is, the absolute contrary of the shared life.”
  • The Eternal Wall of Lucus Augusti for a look at the fortified wall of Lugo and the building of of them symbolizing power and splendor but also insularity. “Only a few decades after the construction of the wall Lucus Augusti would fall. Its formerly all-powerful rulers – a slave-holding class of indolent elites – would wave the white flag to the invading Suave tribe from the north. The Germanic barbarians did not even need to lay siege upon the fortified city, and some say that the elite of the city were celebrating a feast when the occupiers came, too drunk on sweet wine to organise a resistance.”

I’m inspired by Tim’s writing. The posts on Galicia are just a small sample of what he has. He also wrote about Marinaleda, the communist pueblo in Andalusia. He effortlessly blends history with personal essay and photos, which makes for interesting reading.

I feel allergic to blogs that try to push or sell something; an ebook, a course, ads, more posts, etc. Blogs give everyday people a platform and a space to flesh out ideas, share something with the world, valorize practices and ideas. As I go on with Among the Stones, I hope it can also be a place to share like Lives and Times.

How to Be Okay Being Online in 2019: A Listening List

“We’re not meant to be able to understand everything, to be able to take in an unlimited supply of horrible information everyday. Our brains aren’t built to allow us to identify what we can do about something, and what we’ll never be able to do anything about.” — Jia Tolentino

I’m finishing up Ezra Klein‘s interview with Jia Tolentino this morning and also thinking about other recent interviews both she and Jenny Odell gave to the guys at Longform.

Both resonated with me, in part because I feel like they, in different ways, identify the tension of being a person online in an age of social divide while recognizing the personal and systemic themes that come up; trying to live morally in a late capitalist economic system, dealing with attention and time, creating art, self-promotion, having an opinion on the internet, self care, and learning to live and grow in a strange time.

Actually, upon reading that, I’m sure I’ve mischaracterized these interviews. But this is what I got out of them. Anyway, next is to find the time (or rather, a peaceful gap in my scattered attention) to read Tolentino’s Trick Mirror and Odell’s How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy.

The Unraveling of Legal Asylum

In October 2013, 368 mostly Eritrean migrants died after their ship sank off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa. Italy honored them with honorary citizenship and a memorial broadcast on state television. The 155 survivors were detained for illegal entry at an overcrowded holding center and excluded from the ceremony to honor the dead.

This is how Noah Lanard starts his Mother Jones interview piece with David Scott FitzGerald about his book Refuge Beyond Reach: How Rich Democracies Repel Asylum Seekers.

This interview struck a chord. A global tide of isolationism and strongman despotism is growing. The United States has an soulless authoritarian president who uses his platforms to dehumanize immigrants, people of color, and Muslims. His base, mostly white voters experiencing changing national demographics, loves it. But Europe is also dealing with far-right political parties rattling their sabers, with some in power refusing to offer safe harbor for migrant boats in the Mediterranean, or using their parliamentary seats to change agreed-upon norms.

And here I sit this morning in my flat in Cologne. A white Muslim with a strong Californian accent, I will never experience the fear my brothers and sisters feel from Honduras, Somalia, Western Sahara, or Kurdistan, at home under occupation in some circumstances or abroad in foreign countries. Though I receive many looks from Kölners, I pass. I walk around town with some general ambiguity (language and cultural norms), but I do not live with the dread of encountering PEGIDA members while grocery shopping.

The ruling class has been dismantling a system of asylum created after our moral failings to help Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler. Now, the system does everything to deter the people who need help the most. The ones fleeing violence or famine just want a normal life. It is incredible that in the 21st century we still place so much importance on imaginary borders. If we removed all of them, the world’s GDP would double.

Here are two quotes from FitzGerald, about Europe and the United States that speak volumes about our culpability.

“One of the perverse things about the system of control [in Europe] is that it’s undermined the basic principle of the law of the sea, which is that mariners are obligated to give aid to other mariners in distress. Because a lot of the ship crews that have rescued people at sea have been prosecuted by the Italian government, in particular, it has created a disincentive for mariners passing through those waters to help people who are drowning. We know that the result is that those people are being abandoned to drown.”

“[The United States] is the wealthiest country in human history. We have the technical capacity to move hundreds of thousands of troops around the world in fairly short order. The idea that we don’t have the capacity to deal with people asking for asylum, I think is simply false. Maybe on day one you don’t. But if you care about it, within a few weeks, the capacity would be developed to do that. The fact that we don’t have this system that is able to effectively process asylum seekers and determine which of them have legitimate claims is a failure of political will.”

We should also direct our rancor at Australia as well, who lock asylum seekers up in open-air prisons on Nauru, or any number of countries such as Israel, Libya, Turkey, and Mexico who help facilitate the West’s desire to keep people out.