Virtudes (e Misterios) and The Inner Memory: Emigration and Return as Identity Fragmentation and an Exercise of Post-Memory in Galician Diaspora
É posible imaxinar unha Galicia sen fronteiras, confluencia de culturas e puntode encontro, unha Galicia dinámica e viaxeira, aberta á hibridación, que encontrao seu lugar no mundo. Sería necesario construír unha nova cartografía ondeGalicia non fose periferia, unha Galicia solidaria co mundo, e sobre todo consigomesma, unha idea de Galicia posible para o século XXI.
The importance of the numbers of the Spanish emigration to some European countries such as Germany, France or Switzerland between 1959 and 1973 is well known. The conjunction of a surplus work force in Spain (and in other countries in the South) and a strong demand for unqualified workers in these countries, immersed in a period of economic growth, together with the abandonment of a restrictive migratory politics and of the so-called autarchy, resulted in an abundant flow of work force destined to Europe.
claro es que referido únicamente a la mujer casada, las limitaciones de Derecho, una vez más confirmado en la reforma del Código Civil en mil novecientos cincuenta y ocho, que el matrimonio exige una potestad de dirección que la naturaleza, la religión y la historia atribuyen al marido. Sigue siendo norma programática del Estado español, anunciada por la Declaración segunda del Fuero del Trabajo, la de “libertar a la mujer casada del taller y de la fábrica”. (Ley Sobre derechos políticos profesionales y de trabajo de la mujer, Ley 56 de 22 de julio 1961)2
For the first time, they have the possibility for their sons and daughters to not face the same tiring and destructive jobs that they faced. Class becomes a place one wants to abandon. And for what reason wouldn’t they want to abandon it? Why should they try again, after having swallowed so many defeats?
“[…] tackles the theme of the construction of memory and of the mechanisms of the production of history. Through the narration of my family’s history, it delves into the memory of the recent emigration from the Spanish state to Europe, and reflects on the mechanisms of oblivion and remembrance, by recuperating the idea of the construction of memory as a nexus and a dialogue, and the elaboration from personal experience against the idea of an official history and memory, restricted to the institutional and articulated around the aestheticisation and the deactivation of the political subjects”
But, at that moment, the connection between the two, the grandmother, and the city, had reached such a degree of blending that it seemed the most logical thing to me: I could not conceive of the one without the other, as if she had already been born an emigrant and as if that condition was timeless and unalterable.
2. Memory, Post-Memory, and Family Albums
“I have made this trip because I have the duty of memory, and the necessity to tell our history which is also the History”.
Mentres eu lle daba voltas a como escribir este libro, que se unha novela cos personaxes cos nomes cambiados, que se un reconto máis achegado a non ficción […] pois chegou a vida e meu pai faleceu. Eu aí decateime que a vida non agardaba que había que espelirse, como diría a miña avoa Virtudes e tratar de escribir a historia dunha vez mellor ou peor, pero polo menos sacala a diante. Ese foi tamén un gran estímulo para min e o mesmo tempo unha mágoa que de todas as conversas que tivemos e todas as memorias que eu sabía que lle ían gustar pois non chegase a tempo para lelas porque eu estivese demasiado ocupado dándolle voltas a como contalo […] debo dicir que no proceso de recollida de información meu pai foi unha fonte valiosísima, porque el o lembraba absolutamente todo […]
percibía que para a avoa aquelas comuñóns eran importantes, mantiñan acesa a súa fe cristiá e supuñan un vínculo claro, mesmo se a lingua era outra, co seu lugar de orixe. O que daquela eu non sabía era que unha daquelas misas case lle salvara a vida12.
—Well, if that had been nowadays, it would have been better not to leave, wouldn’t it?—Oh, well, if we weren’t getting paid our retirement, it is the same as before, because now we get more than two hundred thousand pesetas every month, but one year you sell the potatoes a little better, and another- last year Sindo sold 34 or 35,000 kilos at 3 pts. What is that!
It is necessary to have an attentive self-control, to avoid being the object of external control, of pity or charity: get on, don’t fall, go by yourself to the doctor, don’t get any debts, don’t ask for the impossible. And all that fear, and that rage that you have gone through. All that fear still lives inside me. Today, from my work, I think of how to make your work visible: the production of history, the history of production.
Ninguén da familia accedera aínda á universidade, pero confiaba caladamente en que á Escola de Idiomas lle seguise a facultade e a licenciatura que a ela as circunstancias lle negaran. Aquel primeiro título chegou cando eu fixen os dezaoito, pero cando o enmarcamos e colgamos a carón do de miña nai, eu estaba a piques de estragar o seu soño e, de paso, un futuro meu no que ela depositara tantas esperanzas e investira tanto sacrificio15.
unha convencional historia de emigración, tan tópica que era imposible non asumir a súa verosimilitude: remendar zapatos apenas daba uns patacóns e a Venezuela dos anos cincuenta aparecíase coma unha terra prometida de prosperidade, a xulgar polo que dicían as noticias que se recibían nas casas dos que tiñan parentes naquela beira do Caribe19”.
O obxecto destes retratos non era o de xuntarse, a non ser que os seus destinatarios se reunisen de novo. Pero o azar quixo unilos e remexelos nunha lata que, non se sabe moi ben como ou por que, gardaba na casa Ermila, unha das irmás da avoa. Agora, sobre o meu escritorio, reconstrúen ese imposible plano/contraplano transoceánico que enxergaba un diálogo diferido de miradas no que elas semellaban ollalo coma se o tivesen diante no mesmo cuarto para botarlle en cara, sen palabras, as súas expectativas, os seus reproches, os seus medos ante unha ausencia que presaxia o maior dos terrores, o abandono.33
The letters with photographs came and went: my first bicycle, the birthdays, the first family vacations, the knitted dresses that you sent me. […] The break-up grew with the distance, feeding on our efforts.We changed in your absence, to the point of becoming complete strangers, but the fiction of progress was almost perfect. […]How to retrieve all that absence of the time of the photographs? How to finish with the silence and the TV on at all times so as not to ask?
3. From Widows of the Living, the Mater Amantisima, to Emigrant Women
Ella, la que antes no era más que esposa amante y madre cariñosa, consagrada por entero a los menesteres de su casa, se crece, se agiganta, cuando la necesidad lo exige, y revenda revelando singulares actitudes para todo trabajo, lo mismo labra el campo que apacienta el ganado, nutre con su sabia al hijo del poderoso, compra y vende, cose, hila y teje, sin que haya oficio que se le resista, ni empresa que no acometa […]. Y esta condición adquiere especial relieve en el litoral […]. Cuando el hombre se ausenta y, salvando los mares, busca en lejanas tierras el sustento que la patria le niega, el hogar gallego no se resiente, antes bien, parece que su condición mejora al estímulo de una severa economía y diligente laboriosidad de los que quedan43.
Foi Fina a que falou: que o marido marchara a Venezuela, que non mandaba cartos porque disque non gañaba pero tampouco quería volver, que Virtudes tiña ao seu cargo tres fillas pequenas, que se eslombaba sen que lle chegasen os cartos, e que estaba disposta a irse ao estranxeiro ela tamén se iso lle aseguraba a mantenza das cativas. Fina escoitou, ollando a muller que falaba e a muller que calaba, a cabeza baixa. E logo dixo: ‘Eu volvo a semana despois da que vén. Se dá amañado para marchar, pode vir canda min.45 (pp. 166–77)
[…] eu quería contar tanto a emigración do meu avó como a emigración da miña avoa. Pero eran dúas circunstancias moi diferentes no sentido de que eu vivín a emigración coa miña avoa. Primeiro porque coincidimos no tempo en Londres, como veciños, durante cinco anos, mentres eu era cativo, e tiñamos un contacto case diario e logo nas vacacións de verán cando ela viña aquí […] Digamos que sempre fun testemuño da súa vida emigrante. En cambio o meu avó desaparecera das nosas vidas moito antes de que eu nacera e todo aquilo era un misterio. Así que eu empecei a escribir primeiro sobre un e logo sobre outro e decateime de que todo o que tiña que ver coa emigración do meu avó era unha incógnita e que tiña que andar indagando, preguntando. En cambio para relatar como fora a vida da miña avoa tiña un tesouro na miña memoria, porque eu gardaba moitas lembranzas deses momentos compartidos, e pensaba que era una agasallo que ela me deixara […] Aí decateime de que realmente tiña moito mais para contar sobre a miña avoa e que merecía ese tratamento… O que de primeiras ía ser apenas un capítulo sobre ela e logo no segundo xa pasaba a meu avó converteuse creo que son os seis ou sete primeiros capítulos nos que vou debullando toda esa forma de ser dela48.
fixera os quince o mesmo ano que rematara a guerra civil e que xa adulta pasara da existencia labrega das agras e a servidume vilá á enorme cidade que nese tempo estaba a se reinventar de metrópole colonial en epicentro da modernidade. Londres obrara unha transformación: Virtudes convertérase en Betty, dúas mulleres que habitaban un mesmo físico. Unha coexistencia indisociable pero que concedía maior ou menor protagonismo a unha faceta ou outra segundo o contexto.50
- ¿Non me diredes que lles íades limpar a dous vellos que eran noivos?
- ¿E por que non?
- Mira, Candidad, xa me gustaría a min que dese tan pouco traballo como eles. […]
- Non, se non teño nada en contra. Dígoo porque aquí, sería un escándalo.
Con su natural precocidad, es desde niña compañera de su madre y madre de sus hermanos; se informa de las estrecheces y preocupaciones del hogar, y toma a su cuidado, por singular condición de su carácter, la labor de endulzar las penas y de ocultar o disimular sus propias contrariedades. Así es de reflexiva, que mas que mujer formada de ilusiones y esperanzas, con la voz de la experiencia y los desengaños […]52.
En estos fotomontajes pertenecientes a álbumes familiares, el padre de familia y otro familiar sacerdote, ambos emigrados en América y ausentes en la foto original, son incluidos en la misma mediante un fotomontaje para naturalizar así el poder simbólico masculino a pesar de la ausencia59. (p. 4)
4. The Fragmentation of Family Members and the Return
Tamén meus pais deixaron atrás posibles existencias que non se lograron. Durante moito tempo, obcecado nas preguntas polo meu ex futuro, non fun quen de reparar nos deles. Cando oía a miña nai proclamar que tiñan morriña de Londres, ignoraba que quizais o que botaba en falta, ademais da cidade, era a vida que esta lles podería permitir61.
- Foreigners. You get here, foreigner. The Germans have come, and that hurts, because they treat you like.—Well, they treat you normally.
- Yes, but it hurts, because they say that word. They don’t say family, neighbours. Here come the Germans.—There is the German.
- And that hurts, because inside, you feel Spanish, normal, Spanish. And then they come and say that. Foreigner there, foreigner here. You don’t have a choice. Like a gypsy. You don’t have anything positive.
- Foreigner here, foreigner there. Because there isn’t anything else. (Ruido 2002)
Vinte e cinco anos en Londres, os que xa acumulaba cando nós eramos nenos, non evitaban que na súa fala agromase o substrato da súa anterior vida rural, nin tampouco ditos que naceran nese tempo—“Isto éche Corea!” usábao comodín para describir un abraio negativo—e que se fosen infiltrando nela para reforzar a súa natural expresividade. A adaptación fonética dos topónimos da capital—Edua (Edgware) Road ou Jaimesmí (Hammersmith)—coloreaba o seu galego británico, pero nada como a sonora e contundente colisión xuramentada para ceibar risos:
Estaba a darse unha incipiente inversión de roles, na que a morriña se desprazara da terra natal á de acollida, un xogo de espellos que encarnaba, mellor que calquera outra pertenza, o cadro The Hay Wain de John Constable: vista en Londres, a bucólica escena evocaba, grazas a ollada deformadora da saudade, a Galicia rural que meus pais coñeceran na infancia; agora, enmarcada e nun lugar de honra no recibidor do piso de estrea, a reprodución que mercaran nunha visita á National Gallery lembrábanos a cidade culta dos museos e o coidado inglés pola paisaxe.64
- Only the andalusians?
- The andalusians, those from Madrid, well… as they could.
- Were they grown already?
- They had nothing, so they took them, because they had nothing here in Spain. Not a house, nothing. But we always wanted to come back to our land, so we saved for it. (Ruido 2002)
Á súa dereita atópase á súa amiga Marilyn, quen uns meses máis tarde, tamén cos dezanove de estrea, habería emigrar a Londres, cruzando así de novo as súas vidas nun entorno moi diferente a ese Betanzos católico que, non obstante, trata de reter o seu influxo sobre elas. Antes da súa partida, Marilyn e outras rapazas dispostas para a mesma viaxe reuníronse co párroco, don José Luis, para comprometerse nun voto de pureza como garante da súa fe en terras anglicanas.67
Absorta no barullo ledo que a envolveu á súa chegada, miña nai non repara en que algunhas das amigas que ficaron en Betanzos fan como que non a ven. Cando por fin se decata, pregunta e recibe por resposta que as nais lles prohibiron achegarse a ela: disque circulan contos libertinos sobre as mozas inglesas mais os non menos arrepiantes das españolas que viaxan a Londres co pecaminoso cometido de abortar. Quizais non chegou a oídos de nais e fillas que a rapaza á que evitan vén dun convento.68
Fora o seu un sacrificio que primeiro procurara restituír a dignidade ferida pola ausencia do home, pero que axiña se proxectara a xeito dun investimento futuro que cobraría pleno sentido cando nós, os netos, fomos os primeiros da familia en pisar unha facultade: de pagar os foros en ferrados73 de trigo á licenciatura universitaria en apenas dúas xeracións74.
Conflicts of Interest
See Law 56/1961 of 22 July 1961, presented by the Women’s Section.
It is clear that referring only to married women, the limitations of the Law, once again confirmed in the reform of the Civil Code in 1958, that marriage requires a power of direction that nature, religion, and history attribute to the husband. It continues to be a programmatic norm of the Spanish State, announced by the Second Declaration of the Labour Code, that of “freeing married women from the workshop and the factory.” (Act 56/1961, 22 July 1961).
The question of children, who often stayed here, is a key element in the cognitive-affective representation of this group.
In this list of authors we can include, among others, Carlos Casares, Xosé Fernández Ferreiro, Manuel Rivas, Antón Riveiro Coello, Xosé Manuel Sarille, Suso de Toro, Carlos Reigosa, Xabier Quiroga…
They assume the role of transmission of the certain memory.
Hirsch defines post-memory as “the relationship that the ‘generation after’ bears to the personal, collective, and cultural trauma of those who came before—to experiences they “remember” only by means of the stories, images, and behaviors among which they grew up. But these experiences were transmitted to them so deeply and affectively as to seem to constitute memories in their own right. Postmemory’s connection to the past is thus actually mediated not by recall but by imaginative investment, projection, and creation. To grow up with overwhelming inherited memories, to be dominated by narratives that preceded one’s birth or one’s consciousness, is to risk having one’s own life stories displaced, even evacuated, by our ancestors. It is to be shaped, however indirectly, by traumatic fragments of events that still defy narrative reconstruction and exceed comprehension. These events happened in the past, but their effects continue into the present. This is, I believe, the structure of postmemory and the process of its generation.” (Hirsch 2012, p. 5)
Note that, unlike the aforementioned authors who were born after the end of the Spanish Civil War, Fraga and Ruido did lived part of the migratory period detailed in their works. Although they live it as children.
While I was wondering how to write this book, as if a novel with the characters’ names changed, using a narrative closer to non-fiction […] then life happened and my father passed away. At that moment, I realized that life was not waiting and that we had to hustle, as my grandmother Virtudes would say, and to try to write the story once and for all, better or worse, but at least to set it in motion. That was also a great spur for me and, at the same time, a shame because I was not going to be able to read to him all the conversations we had, and all the memories I knew he was going to like, and the reason was that I was too busy wondering how to tell them […] I must say that in the process of gathering information my father was a very valuable source, because he remembered absolutely everything […]
Isn’t it true that a given individual—an individual subjected, like everyone else, to history and events—has particular, specific memories and forgetfulness? […] Tell me what you forget and I’ll tell you who you are.
In fact, Ruido cites Las formas del Olvido by Marc Augé among the bibliography of her project.
I was aware that for my grandmother these Communion celebrations were important, they kept her Christian faith alive, and they were a clear link, even if the language was different, with her place of origin. What I did not know at the time was that one of these masses almost saved her life.
another precept that governed family morals, and whose authority I have so often heard my mother attribute to her grandmother was “no matter how poor you are, you don’t ever owe anything to anyone.
Individuals, according to Sara Ahmed (2010), try to control the future by realizing certain actions that promise us happiness, since happiness is not understood as something that happens by chance or luck, but as the result of intentional acts that we perform in pursuit of a happy life. Therefore, when the migrant decides to leave, it is because this fact has already been socially established as positive, as an action that leads to happiness (Garrido González 2020, p. 83).
No one in her family had yet got to university, but she was confident that the Language School would be followed by college and a degree that the circumstances had denied her. That first degree came when I was eighteen, but when we framed it and hung it next to my mother’s, I was about to ruin her dream and, indeed, a future of mine in which she had put so much hope and invested so much sacrifice.
The language of the family can become an accessible lingua franca that facilitates identification and projection.
Marianne Hirsch herself uses her family photographs, and to give a few more examples, we could cite the emblematic Maus: relato de un sobreviviente (Spiegelman 2013), to which Hirsch refers, or some Argentinian novels that address the topic of the Argentina’s dictatorship and the disappeared from the children’s generation.
But a generational structure of transmission embedded dintegrated in multiple forms of mediation, from private and intimate, to shared and public images, myths and stories.
A conventional emigration story, so topical that it was impossible not to assume its plausibility: mending shoes was very poorly paid and Venezuela in the 1950s appeared as a promised land of prosperity, judging by the news received in the homes of those who had relatives on that part of the Caribbean coast.
Preventing us from reading their novels as if it were a documentary, perhaps due to the desire not to feel obliged to a factual fidelity.
Any attempt to reproduce them here would be a memory exercise that, like all of them, would have more invention than reliability, and would also be short, very short.
And no one else keeps a testimonial memory of that engagement and wedding. Most of them died, the few who are still alive have forgotten.
But, despite their relevance, hardly any documents have survived to give us an objective reading of of his emigration.
In that London the stories of this book may well have happened. Or imagine them.
As in the case of AZ, it is a book with a fragmentary, polyphonic structure that alternates a variety of narrators. The title, which means whirlpool, refers to chaotic life in Buenos Aires, a great human agglomeration similar to a swarm. The remuíño, is a constant image in the work of this author.
Note that Neira Vilas is the paradigmatic author as far as the literature on transatlantic emigration is concerned. His novels and stories on this subject are numerous, and Memorias dun neno labrego (1961) has been one of the most successful and best-selling books in the history of Galician literature.
A moment that I have repeatedly tried to witness in fiction writing: “The hands of the midwife are skilful. Her fingers pinch and her palms feel guided by hours of effective immigration control services, insistent on his mission, to prevent a new smuggling life from creeping in with that life”.
Leonor Arfuch takes up the expression of “biographical space” by Philippe Lejeune (1980) and defines it as a sphere of particular interaction constructed through interviews, life and autobiographical stories or any other formula that allows both to recover one’s own testimony like someone else. An autobiographical space that encompasses social and individual experiences and in which the subject being investigated and the researcher are close friends. A narrative model marked by the biographical and that obsessively seekas the recovery of memory (2007).
It is from this perspective of a fragmentary narrative framework that we can point out similarities with some texts from the generation of the sons of the Argentina’s dictatorship, such as Aparecida (2015) by Marta Dillon.
A widely available medium.
It makes us susceptible to perceiving the connections between divergent histories and groups.
Land fragments—islets, rocks, shoals—seem to have spread over the sea so that nowadays the gaze of the profane he cannot fail to perceive a certain family resemblance but neither can he reconstitute the lost coherence.
The purpose of these portraits was not to be gathered, unless their recipients were reunited. But fate wanted to bring them together and stir them up in a tin that, it is not clear how or why, Ermila, one of grandmother’s sisters, kept in the house. Now, on my desk, they rebuild that impossible transoceanic shot/reverse shot that brought a deferred dialogue of glances in which they seemed to look at him as if he were in front of them in the same room to spit, without words, their expectations, their reproaches, their fears of an absence that presages the greatest of terrors, abandonment.
The photograph had been taken ten years before it ended up in the hands of his former family, with a purpose that we did not know but that clearly excluded the intention of moving from sadness.
A metaphor for the nation in which she, a farm mother, waits patiently and selflessly for the return of the emigrant. An image that we see repeated over and over again in, for example, the sculptures that commemorate the emigration. This is the case in Monumento ó emigrante (1971) by Camilo Nogueira Martínez, Homenaje a la emigración (2011) by Ramón Conde or Monumento al emigrante (1997) by Fernando García Blanco, among others.
We will cover this point extensively in the next section.
“[…] the trope of Galician sentimentality as a marker of national identity has appeared repeatedly in modern representations of the region, its language and its people, forming a continuum that extends throughout the textual and visual corpus on Galician history and culture from the late nineteenth century up until present times. Its manifestations are as varied as they are historically complex and engrained, but they concentrate on the assumption that Ga1icians are a nostalgic people, living in harmonious comunion with their landscape or yearning for its beauty if away from it. Both implicitly and cxplicitly, these images have evoked a millenary link between Galicians and an innate capacity for poetry and an aloof humour, a way of being in the world that is both impractical and unrealistic, but also astute and reserved. Such imagery appears entwined with discourses on the nation and the multiplicity of ideologies they serve, but also invariably with a gender politics.” (Miguélez-Carballeira 2013, p. 2).
In their works, the provincialists represent Galicia in their works as a battered woman, an aggrieved mother, installing the trenches of the political battlefield over the female body. In the same way, they establish a parallel with what was understood as a lyrical complaint of Isabelline feminine writing, which in these years began and coincided with the principles of the philanthropic humanism of the provincialists and their fondness for feelings (Pérez Lucas 2007, pp. 305–6). They considered that sentimentality “would conveniently help counteract Spanish stereotypical depictions of Galicians as boorish and barbaric” (Miguélez-Carballeira 2013, p. 13), which also fit in with the victimist tone and softened the aggressiveness of some pretensions that were not disruptive and that put into the mouth of a woman, be it real (authorial) or fictitious (character), they intended to make sense of discomfort what, even though it was very restrained, was really an act of political vindication.
For more information see Teijeiro, Miguel Ángel 1996. “Galicia and the Galicians in Spanish Literature of the Golden Age” Scriptura, nº 11, (Issue dedicated to: Literature of the Golden Age), pp. 203–46.
Ideological construction and nationalizing myth that defended a Celtic origin of Galicia, which began in the second half of the 19th century, and that sought to argue the irreducibility and irreversibility of the Galician nation. For more information see Cavada Nieto, Milagros; Núñez García, Oscar 2008. “Galician Celticism in Galician historiography of the ss. XIX and XX”. In MINIUS XVI, pp. 21–61.
María López Sande indicates that “Alain Roger (1997, p. 176), the French theoretician of landscape, used the expression “l’érotisation du paysage” to explain the tendency to project aesthetic values of the feminine body onto the land. […] This semiological trait is rendered natural through repetition, becoming codified, in a kind of grammar, with language, the primary system of modalisation, thus used to establish values and ideas in the social imaginary, these values carrying a high ideological burden in relation to gender. Westling (1996, p. 5) stresses how in such descriptions there is a combination of “eroticism and misogyny”. […] Although there is a tendency to feminise every space (whereas time, for example, is invested with masculine traits), this tendency is perhaps sharpest when we refer to natural spaces. In fact, urban spaces are often described with the clash between masculine/feminine desires, projecting the duality of civilization/nature that forms part of the traditional symbolism of gender patterns […] Given that industrialization and urban development took place quite late in Galicia, the strong rural character of this region enhanced the construction of a geographical imaginary closely linked to femininity” (López Sande 2016, pp. 18–19).
She—who previously was nothing more than a loving wife and an affectionate mother, devoted entirely to the needs of her household—grows, becomes stronger, when necessity demands it, and explodes, revealing special attitudes for all kind of work, whether she tills the land or feeds the cattle, nourishes the son of the powerful with her wisdom, buys and sells, sews, spins and weaves, and there is no trade that resists her, nor enterprise that she does not undertake […]. And this condition takes on special importance on the coast […]. When the man is absent and, crossing the seas, seeks in distant lands the sustenance that the homeland denies him, the Galician home does not suffer, on the contrary, it seems that its condition improves with the spur of a severe economy and diligent industriousness of those who stay.
The grandmother reproduces the mandates of the women’s section of the Falange and is unable to understand her granddaughter’s desire to study.
It was Fina who spoke: that her husband had left for Venezuela, that he did not send money because he did not earn money, but that he did not want to go back either, that Virtudes had three young daughters in her care, That we worked really hard, but the money was not enough, and that she was willing to go abroad if that ensured that she could provide for the girls. Fina listened, looking at the woman who was speaking and at the woman who was silent, with her head down. And then she said: I’ll be back next week. If you are ready to go, you can come with me.
She came from another place, from another world, she spoke to us with those expressive lexical peculiarities and also when I say from another world I don’t mean that she came from London, she came from that Galicia from the 40s, from the London in the 70s and everything was mixed in one single personality that was unique.
Her son was the ultimate reason of her life in London, which allowed her to start again after being cast out in her homeland for being a single mother.
[I wanted to tell about both my grandfather’s and my grandmother’s emigration. But they were two very different circumstances, in the sense that I lived the emigration with my grandmother. First because we were at the same time in London, as neighbours, for five years, when I was a child, and we had almost daily contact and then in the summer holidays when she came here […] Let’s say that I have always been a witness of her life as an emigrant. On the other hand, my grandfather had disappeared from our lives long before I was born and it was all a mystery. So I started to write first about one and then about the other and I realized that everything related to my grandfather’s emigration was a mystery and that I had to keep on researching, asking questions. However, to tell what my grandmother’s life had been like, I had a treasure in my memory, because I kept many memories of those shared moments, and I thought it was a gift that she left me […] There I realized that I really had a lot more to tell about my grandmother and that she deserved that treatment… What at first was intended to be just one chapter about her and then from the second one about my grandfather, it became I think the first six or seven chapters where I’m unravelling that whole way of being her. (Pascual 2020, 22:53).
A consensual contract by which someone cedes to another person, usually for three generations, the usable domain of something for a certain fee or pension.
She turned fifteen in the same year that the civil war ended and as an adult he moved from the peasant existence of the farmlands and vile serfdom to the immense city which at that time was reinventing itself as a colonial metropolis at the epicentre of modernity. London had undergone a transformation: Virtues had become Betty, two women living in the same physical space. An inseparable coexistence, but that gave more or less prominence to one or the other depending on the context.
—Don’t tell me that you were going to clean the house of two old men who were a couple?
—And why not?
—Look here, Candidad, I wish I was given as little work as they did. […]
—No, is not that I have anything against it. I say that because it would be a scandal here.
—People here are always gossiping. And in London, they don’t have to explain themselves to no one.
With her natural precocity, she has been the companion of her mother and mother of her siblings since she was a child; she is informed of the narrowness and worries of the household, and assumes, by the singular condition of her character, the task of sweetening the sorrows and of concealing or disguising her own discomforts. She is that thoughtful, more than a woman made of illusions and hopes, with the voice of experience and disappointments […]
As we will see in Section 3, all this cliché of the precocious nature of the young Galician girl falls like a slab on Maxa, the protagonist of Adiós María, which is a formative novel.
Are we going to have the money now for me to study to be a teacher?
To gather a small amount to invest when the opportunity of continuing the studies would again arise in the near future. Each time I added something, no matter how small the amount was, I kept that longing alive.
A total coincidence at nineteen: the typewriter, symbol of preparation, a long and tortuous path in my mother’s case.
The everyday genre of the family photograph is a heteronormative reproductive technology that produces and fixes the family and its mythologies.
The photographs used to exemplify the photomontage are taken from Cerdeira Louro, Xurxo Cerdeira (Cerdeira Louro 2010) Proceso migratorio e sociedades de emigrantes de Vedra. A viaxe cara a modernidade, A Coruña: Diputación de A Coruña.
In these photomontages belonging to family albums, the father of the family and another relative who is a priest, both emigrated to America and absent in the original photo, are included in it through a photomontage to thus naturalize the masculine symbolic power despite the absence.
Disconnected from any possible or credible narrative; they have become detached from memory.
EX FUTURES: II
My parents also left behind possible existences that were not achieved. For a long time, obsessed with questions about my former future, I failed to notice theirs. When I heard my mother proclaim that she missed London, I couldn’t tell if what she was missing, in addition to the city, was the life that the city could offer them.
A matter that we can also observe in A–Z, where the limits of the territorial map of Galicia are extended, as we have already noted, to include London as a Galician village.
Twenty-five years in London—what she had been living there when we were children—did not stop her from showing the substratum of her old rural life in her speech, nor sayings that were born at that time like “Isto éche Corea!” [This is Korea!] that she used it as a catch-all to describe a negative astonishment, and that were being infiltrated to reinforce her natural expressiveness. The phonetic adaptation of the capital’s place names—Edua (Edgware) Road or Jaimesmí (Hammersmith)—coloured her British Galician, but nothing made people laugh like the loud and powerful swear collision:
—Fuckin’ merda! [“Fuckin’ shit!”].
An incipient role reversal was taking place, in which nostalgia had shifted from the homeland to the host land, a set of mirrors embodied, better than any other belonging, the painting The Hay Wain by John Constable that seen in London, the bucolic scene evoked, thanks to the distorting gaze of nostalgia, the rural Galicia that my parents had known as children; now, framed and in a place of honour in the entrance hall of the brand-new flat, the copy they had bought on a visit to the National Gallery reminded us of the cultured city of museums and English care for the landscape.
It is about the protagonist’s right to return to her father’s house after her emigration to the city. López Abente contrasts the normality of the return in the male case with the impossibility when it is the woman who returns.
In A cicatriz branca, Margarita Ledo Andión narrates the experience of Galician women who emigrated alone to Argentina. Using techniques from the feminist film avant-garde and documentary cinema, the director codifies the extreme vulnerability of these women, their radical loneliness and the impossibility of their return (González Fernández 2018, p. 334).
To her right is her friend Marilyn, who a few months later, also at the age of nineteen, would emigrate to London, thus crossing their lives again in a very different environment from that of Catholic Betanzos, that nevertheless keeps maintaining its influence on them. Prior to their departure, Marilyn and other girls willing to make the same journey met with the parish priest, Don José Luis, to commit themselves to a vow of purity as a guarantor of their faith in Anglican lands.
Absorbed in the noise of joy that surrounded her on her arrival, my mother does not notice that some of her friends that stayed in Betanzos pretend not to see her. When she finally realizes, she asks, and they answer that their mothers forbade them to go near her: there are some vicious rumours about English girls, and no less lurid about Spanish girls travelling to London with the sinful task of abortion. It may not have reached the ears of mothers and daughters that the girl they avoid comes from a convent.
There was diversity in the arrangements: Amalia had a relationship with Davy, of Mozambican descents, […] and occasionally spends the night at his place. Celia, on her side, had been married to Ali for years.
This novel has a strong noir component, which intertwines with the reunion of two old lovers in a Galician village. He has emigrated to Mexico and she has to Barcelona. The point that interests us in the analysis we are making in this article is the fact that the reunion provokes reflection and contrasts civilized Barcelona and violent Mexico. As well as, the woman she would have been and the life the protagonist would have led if, instead of staying in Barcelona with her parents, she had gone to Mexico with her old love. In addition, the novel shows how the mentality of those who emigrated to Mexico is much more reactionnary and the social position of women in the emigrant collective much more subordinate.
The affects as invariant monuments, idealized and not performative.
Violence that triggers submission that is not even perceived as such based on “collective expectations”, socially inculcated beliefs.
The ferrado is originally a measure of volume used in Galicia to measure cereals or grain. It is a rectangular wooden box of approximately 60 × 30 × 20 cm, with a capacity of 12–20 kg, depending on the type of cereal.
It had been hers a sacrifice that had first sought to restore dignity wounded by the man’s absence, but which was soon projected as a future investment that made full sense when we, the grandchildren, were the first in the family to access to college: from paying the foros in ferrados of wheat to a college degree in just two generations.
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Garrido González, A. Virtudes (e Misterios) and The Inner Memory: Emigration and Return as Identity Fragmentation and an Exercise of Post-Memory in Galician Diaspora. Humanities 2022, 11, 38. https://doi.org/10.3390/h11020038
Garrido González A. Virtudes (e Misterios) and The Inner Memory: Emigration and Return as Identity Fragmentation and an Exercise of Post-Memory in Galician Diaspora. Humanities. 2022; 11(2):38. https://doi.org/10.3390/h11020038Chicago/Turabian Style
Garrido González, Ana. 2022. "Virtudes (e Misterios) and The Inner Memory: Emigration and Return as Identity Fragmentation and an Exercise of Post-Memory in Galician Diaspora" Humanities 11, no. 2: 38. https://doi.org/10.3390/h11020038