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Local Discursive Strategies for the Cultural Construction of the Border: The Case of the Portuguese–Spanish Border

Maria de Fátima Amante


The border will be addressed as a discursive object as the purpose of this paper is to explore discursive strategies involved in the cultural construction of the border and of local identity. The paper will focus on a section of the Portuguese-Spanish border between Portuguese Beira Interior Norte and Spanish Castilla Y Léon. Taking as a case the rhetoric of borders' population, I intend to show that political borders are mainly mental, symbolic and cultural constructions. I will also argue that in the process of construction and reproduction of the border, social and economic practices that have long ceased to characterise the area and its population are, in this matter, stronger elements than those of the present. Discursive local strategies constructing the border and local identity reproduce a certain asymmetry depending on the producer and the context of production. I will address the issue by focusing on two different kinds of discursive strategies. On the one hand, I will be referring to those strategies that, because they work on an individual level, are not planned as real strategies, i.e., they are not designed with a specific goal, operating instead mainly on an unconscious level. On the other hand, I will deal with some discursive strategies that are specifically planned and intended to produce an effect that relates to the construction and reaffirmation of local identity. In approaching this issue I will consider museological discursive practices from smuggling museums in Melgaço (North of Portugal) and Santana de Cambas (South of Portugal) and smuggling routes in Montalegre County in the North of Portugal.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229