The Camino de Santiago and the Forging of Galician Identity

Since the Middle Ages the Camino de Santiago has been a major goal of pilgrimage in the Christian West, but its role in shaping a distinct Galician identity in our age is still a matter of research.  Thanks to the generous endowment of the Philpott-Pérez Award, professor George Greenia and Hispanic Studies major Ryan T. Goodman (’14) were able to present their initial findings at a most unique conference on Galician studies held at the University of Wisconsin-Milwakee in May 2014, and to extend their collaboration by carrying out field research in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, during the summer.

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Ryan Goodman (’14) presenting his research on “Patron Saint of King, Country and Post-National ideal” at the 2014 Symposium on Pilgrimage Studies

At a conference on (Re)Mapping Galician Studies in North America: A Breakthrough Symposium (May 2-3, 2014), Prof. Greenia and Ryan participated in a session exclusively devoted to the Camino de Santiago.  Prof. Greenia presided the session and offered his remarks as a respondent, while Ryan presented his paper on “Modern Galician Youth: Pilgrimage and Diaspora.”  Soon afterwards both travelled to Spain as Professor Greenia co-led the W&M summer study abroad program in Santiago de Compostela and mentored over a dozen student research projects. Ryan remained in Santiago after the William & Mary study abroad experience interning at the cathedral’s Pilgrim Office and conducting further work on Galician identity amid competing claims of loyalty to the Autonomous Region of Galicia and the Spanish monarchy.  Ryan was even present for the new King’s inaugural speech on the Feast of St. James when Felipe VI and his wife the Queen gave their formal declaration of support to the pilgrimage while Galician nationalists protested outside the cathedral precinct.  Goodman presented the results of his summer research as a poster presentation for the 2014 Symposium on Pilgrimage Studies, Shared Journeys: The Confluence of Pilgrimage Traditions, celebrated at William & Mary (September 26-28, 2014), and Goodman and Greenia are coauthoring an article entitled “Santiago: Patrón de una nación y protector de su monarquía y un ideal posnacionalista.”

Ryan’s internship in Santiago also captured the attention of local media. For a full story of Ryan’s experience, please read the following article prepared by staff reporters of the College.

The Philpott-Pérez Award in Hispanic Studies was generously established by Sharon K. Philpott in 2010 in order to support faculty-student research.

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