La Nava de San Miguel : a social anthropological study of a Spanish mountain village
This thesis, based on extensive fieldwork (from 1978 to 1985) at La Nava de San Miguel, a village in the province of Avila in central Spain, attempts to demonstrate six main points: 1. That the continued vitality of the village as a community is based on the economic factors of possession of large summer and autumn pastures near the village, transhumance to winter pastures over the mountains in Extremadura, the cattle market at nearby El Barco de Avila, and virtual self-subsistance, all of which enable the villagers to maintain themselves as cattle raisers; and to the strength of: a) the village ideal of co-operation embodied in the use of the common known as the 'Sierra de Socios', the transhumant groups and the systems organized by the 'torno'; and b) the village ideal of mutual assistance shown at hay-making, pig-killing, and other aspects of daily life in the village. 2. That all co-operative institutions inside the village are organized by the principle of the 'torno', by which rights and obligations to these co-operative institutions rotate cyclically ('like a wheel which turns endlessly') and the village itself is conceived of by its inhabitants as essentially having no beginning and no end. 3. That the co-operative institution outside the village (the transhumant group which goes to the winter pastures in Extremadura) is not organized by the 'torno', since the villagers are members of the transhumant groups as individuals, free to change from one group to another, and decisions made by these groups are not controlled by the village as a community. 4. That the villagers conceptually divide the village and the surrounding territory into the 'realm of the men' (apart from the bar, outside the village) and the 'realm of the women' (inside the village). 5. That the people of La Nava conceptualize the world as consisting essentially of two parts: the complementary halves of themselves (their village and their region) and the land across the mountains to the south of them, Extremadura. The villagers radically contrast their village - regarded as cold, dark, and lacking in fertility - with the warmth, sun, and fertility of Extremadura. 6. That unlike affairs in the village organized to ensure continuity and equity by the principle of the 'torno' and following a movement of rotation, all relations with Extremadura are considered to move up and down in a lineal direction to ensure fertility and life when these are lacking in the village. The thesis consists of four chapters: Chapter I looks at the physical situation, climatic conditions, historical background, and other introductory information; Chapter II examines the socioeconomic institutions of the village - the 'Sierra de Socios', the systems of 'tornos' for herding the goats, irrigating the fields, etc.; Chapter III deals with the annual cycle of transhumance to and from Extremadura; and Chapter IV examines the 'world-view' of the villagers of La Nava - especially the symbolic aspects of this - and, in particular, the perception they have of their own identity in relation to Extremadura.