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«Are neighbours alike? Practices of conviviality in Catalonia and Casamance Tilmann Heil University of Konstanz, Germany Abstract Living together in ...»

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Erschienen in: European Journal of Cultural Studies ; 17 (2014), 4. - S. 452-470

Are neighbours alike?

Practices of conviviality in

Catalonia and Casamance

Tilmann Heil

University of Konstanz, Germany


Living together in neighbourhoods characterised by various aspects of diversity is

central to the everyday life of Casamançais in both Catalonia, Spain, and Casamance,

Senegal. Discursively, Casamançais speak about it similarly in both localities,

construing co-residence on the neighbourhood scale as a sociality that builds on similar moral values such as relative equality, respect and consideration. At the same time, this sociality also implies negotiation, interaction and translation as central everyday practices. Investigating these practices reveals how they facilitate locally specific forms of neighbourliness. These practices are central to the suggested conceptualisation of conviviality as a process in which a fragile balance is maintained over the course of both cooperative and conflictual situations.

Keywords Conflict, conviviality, everyday, migration, neighbourliness, residency, Senegal, Spain, translation Introduction In Casamance, a region in the south of Senegal, a saying goes, ‘Ton voisin est ton plus proche parent’,1 which in an urban context introduces the following reasoning: Since your blood relatives might be far away in your home village or distant towns in the sub- region, it is a neighbour, someone living in relative physical proximity, who will help you in case of need. The examples of actual assistance substantiating this claim are mani- fold and vary in terms of the degree of commitment involved. In Ziguinchor, the capital

Corresponding author:

Tilmann Heil, Center of Excellence ‘Cultural Foundations of Integration’, University of Konstanz, P.O. Box 213, Universitätsstrasse 10, 78457 Konstanz, Germany.

Email: tilmann.heil@uni-konstanz.de Konstanzer Online-Publikations-System (KOPS) URL: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:352-264166 453 of Lower Casamance, one of my interlocutors, Papis Sonko,2 gave many examples of actions of neighbourliness, such as dousing a fire, providing food, looking after the chil- dren or helping prepare celebrations. Yet, some people, including migrants visiting Casamance, distrusted their neighbours to the extent that they did not eat or drink there out of a fear of being poisoned. This fear stemmed from envy that many Casamançais perceived to exist between certain neighbours and their migrant family members, a per- ception that was usually already in place prior to migration but that tended to increase dependent on perceived migration success. In this article, I use selected examples of discourses of neighbourliness and manifestations of it to enquire into conviviality, the fragile process of locally living with difference. The ethnography of neighbourliness in Casamance, Senegal, and Catalonia, Spain, will contribute to the conceptual understanding of conviviality as this fragile process that encompasses both cooperative and conflictual encounters on the basis of relative equality, mutual respect and consideration.

In contrast to Casamance, Casamançais in Catalonia expected neighbourliness to be different due to people’s likely maintenance of stronger individual concerns. This was confirmed when they experienced the absence even of greeting among neighbours.

However, Sounkar Deme had a neighbour who helped out whenever he needed her support. Thus, Casamançais’ experiences of relationships with neighbours sometimes confirmed and at other times contradicted their expectations of neighbourliness in Catalonia.

This also depends on how far the normative underpinnings of neighbourliness migrate with Casamançais as part of their values, or whether their moral compass is overridden and ‘Europeanised’. I thus ask what the local contextual influences on neighbourliness are versus those from within the transnational social field (Levitt and Glick Schiller, 2004: 1009). I question the extent to which neighbourliness draws from transnationally circulating values and how local social institutions change them.

Although Casamançais frequently expected neighbourliness to be diametrically opposed in Catalonia and Casamance and represented them stereotypically for both sites, the experiences of neighbourliness are indeed heterogeneous in both localities. I will therefore try to analytically distinguish social change over time within the same locality from changes in conceptions of neighbourliness due to migration.

Drawing from 18 months of fieldwork equally split between Catalonia and Casamance, in this article, I address how neighbourliness discourses inform the conceptualisation of the process of conviviality and to what extent its normative connotations impact on everyday encounters of conviviality.3 I will differentiate into discourses the representations of neighbourliness, and practices by which I refer to lived experiences in encounters. In general, neighbourliness concerned the people staying next door as well as those living in the area that my interlocutors easily reached by foot (cf. Heil, forthcoming). In this article, I present the perspective of mainly Casamançais men, both migrants in Catalonia and their family members and friends in Casamance. I did not have the same access to women migrants, which is why their perspective is mostly missing from this research. I compare the experiences of Casamançais in two neighbourhoods, of Casamançais migrants in Cerdanyola in Mataró (Catalonia), and of their families and friends in Lindiane in Ziguinchor (Casamance).

In the following, I will first give some empirical background on the transnational migration of Casamançais and their housing patterns in diverse neighbourhoods in 454 Catalonia and Casamance to emphasise the relevance of conceptualising conviviality, living with difference. Second, I will analyse the place of neighbourliness in the political as well as local discourses of convivència and cohabitation in order to contrast this with practices of neighbourliness in a third part. I will engage with aspects of neighbourliness which suggest interaction, negotiation and translation as basic practices of conviviality.

In view of the current academic discussions of conviviality as mundane and everydaylike, I will conclude that the analysis of neighbourliness has suggested these basic practices as an innovative way of conceptualising conviviality as a process of both cooperative and conflictual encounters in fragile and changing diverse local configurations.

Living in mixed neighbourhoods My field sites were characterised by diverse configurations of people. Ethnically mixed neighbourhoods constitute large parts of both Catalan and Casamançais towns. As a result of three decades of immigration, Spain’s population has diversified. Within Spain, the autonomous region of Catalonia is a primary destination for immigrants with a foreign-born population of 17.5 percent compared to the national average of 14 percent in 2010 (Instituto Nacional de Estadística, 2011). Casamançais migrants concentrate in certain parts of Catalonia, such as the Maresme county and Mataró, the county seat.4 Cerdanyola is a peripheral neighbourhood of Mataró and offers a typical example of the neighbourhoods, characterised by various aspects of diversity, of many of the middle-sized industrial towns of Catalonia. The neighbourhood was built during the heavy influx of internal Castilian labour migrants from the south of Spain in the 1950s and 1960s (cf. Bover and Velilla, 2005; Lligadas, 2000; Silvestre Rodríguez, 2002). During my fieldwork, the neighbourhood did not appear to be segregated. People of all stripes were coinciding in public. For example, in the Parc de Cerdanyola, women from all parts of the world were standing in groups in the area of the playground and chatting on a summer Sunday afternoon. There were sub-Saharan and North Africans, Asians and Europeans. A visibly very diverse crowd of boys played football in mixed teams.

Elsewhere in the park, small gatherings of elderly Southern European men coincided with other inhabitants of the neighbourhood.

The coexistence of Castilian and Catalan speakers, dating back to the 1950s, today is complimented by the influx of international migrants of diverse origins, from 120 different nation states, and even more ethnic and language groups. Local statistics show that one in four inhabitants of Cerdanyola is born outside Spain, while every second resident is born outside of Catalonia (Ajuntament de Mataró, 2010). Of those born outside Spain, the majority is from Morocco (44.5%), and more than one in five is from Senegal or The Gambia. Other large groups are Chinese and Latin Americans. At least every eighth person is Muslim in Cerdanyola.5 This is double the share of the Catalan average in 2008 (Moreras, 2008: 18). These are the configurations in which the everyday life encounters of neighbours and their discourses of conviviality take place.

In Casamance, my initial impression of urban space was different from Cerdanyola.

Lindiane, a peripheral neighbourhood of Ziguinchor, the capital of the lower Casamance, has no freshly refurbished parks or other communal infrastructures; rather, the only wide boulevard was nearly fully eroded. Although there was some traffic, the boulevard was a 455 space for casual encounters, as were the street corners and the footpaths spread around the neighbourhood. Neighbours passed and greeted each other, groups sat in front of corner shops and house entrances, elderly men gathered at the small mosque in the shade, and in the evening women sold vegetables and fish along the boulevard.

As in Catalonia, this was the scene of a migrant neighbourhood, since Casamance is strongly characterised by migration flows that have resulted in ethnic, linguistic, religious and national diversity (ANSD, 2009).6 The two neighbourhood representatives of Lindiane told me that increasing urbanisation brought Jola, Mandinka and other ethnic

groups to Lindiane until the Bainuk, the original landowners, nearly completely disappeared, a fate they met in all of Casamance (Linares, 1992: 84–90; Quinn, 1971, 1972:

482; Roche, 1985: 28–56). Inhabitants of the neighbourhood sometimes claimed it to be dominantly Jola and sometimes Mandinka, but no one was really sure because there were also neighbours of other ethnic groups and national backgrounds. For example, the majority of corner shops are run by Fula, and Bissau Guinean refugees began settling in the north-east in the 1970s. Immigrants from more distant origins including Guinean Fula and Ghanaians, but also a German evangelical pastor and a French Catholic nun, were scattered across this part of town.

In terms of religion, Lindiane is a very mixed neighbourhood of Ziguinchor, with Muslims (mainly Qadiriyya and Tijaniyyah), Christians (mainly Catholics) and many others adhering to ethnically specific religions. A large Catholic church and a private Catholic school are located on the boulevard. A féticheur sells talismans next to the school, and a small mosque is situated a couple of blocks east of the church along the boulevard. South of it, there are two larger mosques and an evangelical church.

Casamance is the region in Senegal which is the most heterogeneous in regard to religion. All departments of the Lower and Middle Casamance have a share of 7 percent to over 30 percent of Christians and shares of adherers of so-called traditional religions of up to 35 percent (ANSD, 2009). In the Kasa County west of Lindiane, Christians and traditional believers outnumber Muslims, a unique occurrence in Senegal.

Along the boulevard was the house where I stayed, Samboukunda, which reflected the neighbourhood in a nutshell. Around the same yard where I lived were some Fula shopkeepers, a Catholic teacher from Guinea Bissau with his two sisters and Jola cousin, and a Muslim Jola family from the Kalounayes with one nephew who had recently become an Ibadu.7 The various neighbours stopping by for a visit completed the picture of the diverse configuration of Lindiane.

In the two neighbourhoods, Lindiane in Senegal and Cerdanyola in Catalonia, diversity characterised the social context in which neighbourliness was an important theme from which I conclude on the process of conviviality.

Convivència and Cohabitation, residency and neighbourliness In the following, I engage with the discourses of convivència and cohabitation, emic concepts of living with difference. As I will show, neighbourliness is closely interwoven.

As normative discourses they reference everyday practices and values on the basis of which living with difference should be possible. A similar picture emerges from both 456 Casamance and Catalonia. The local discourses present a vision rather than the messiness of everyday life, which I juxtapose in detail thereafter.

Catalan convivència and residency Casamançais in Catalonia frequently rephrased my interest in social relations in Catalonia using convivència, a local term referencing the practices of everyday living together that everyone would strive for, Catalans and immigrants alike. Casamançais crudely stated that neighbourly relations were by and large unproblematic and that some degree of conflict was normal, since there were good and bad people wherever one went. Both the political discourse and the practice of dealing with immigration in Catalonia informed this reference to convivència.

Catalan political rhetoric stressed convivència alongside interculturalism and cohesion. Un pacte per viure junts i juntes. Pacte Nacional per a la Immigració8 (Generalitat de Catalunya, 2009) and related action plans (Generalitat de Catalunya, 2005, 2010) state as their primary objective that people of different origins can live together in Catalonia.

They aim to prevent conflicts of convivència through the sharing of a common public culture, the adjustment of social services and the managing of migration flows. Within this framework, convivència gives importance to equality and plurality, alongside interaction, participation and mutual respect. The empadronament, the registration of everyone living in a locality with the council, is crucial in that it partially grants de facto equality to registered local residents – or neighbours.

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