Focus group: Constructed diversity vs Experienced sameness

Identity, La Línea, Language, Spanish culture Comments Off on Focus group: Constructed diversity vs Experienced sameness

Questions of identity structure social life in the Campo de Gibraltar. Despite centuries of osmotic cross-border relations, following the border closure between 1969 and 1985 Gibraltarians started perceiving themselves as increasingly different from their Spanish neighbours. As the legacies of past and present hostilities between Spain and the UK over Gibraltar remain alive, and the inhabitants of the Rock feel increasingly British, Gibraltarian became the target of sporadic acts of discrimination when in Spain. However, young Gibraltarians as the ones talking in this focus group, experience frequent border crossing into Spain and undertake their higher education in the UK. As we see here, the combination of these experiences made them contest the sociocultural construction of Gibraltarian nationalism.

Audio Interview (12/12/2015):

TRANSCRIPTION:

FG: My ex was really brainwashed by all of that.

FG: Yes, exactly.

FG: Pero, really badly.

IN: Qué era, ¿de Gibraltar?

FG: He is half-English; his mum is English…

IN: Yes…

FG: …And half-Llanito. And he spent half his life in England and half his life here. But for the last… Since the queues and stuff… We used to go, before, weekends away, whatever. I have to go to La Línea regularly – like once a month – for an appointment. And he would…. I would always say to him: “Why don’t we go we have desayuno, we have breakfast, do whatever”. “I’m not spending a penny there.” And he’d make sure that he would go back to Gib. and have breakfast in Gib.

IN: No me diga…

FG: But I’ve heard those opinions around me… En tía, y eso but like really… Strong opinions. And I think it’s really sad.

IN: Why do you think tus tías piensan así y ustedes ¿no? Why the generation is different?

FG: Probably because we have not lived through it as much as they have…

FG: I, for example… I think… It’s that feeling I had when I was at uni…

FG: My younger brother is like that…

FG: I’m English but I’m not English. And then… I thought bueno, you have to obviously think outside the box and think for yourself, ¿no? You can’t just let…

FG: Yes.

FG: Whatever, the thing around you influences you to do what you want to do, and….

FG: I think the same as you – though, however, I might feel any resent for them on what they have done. I don’t know, you’ve got to think it’s politicians, they are not the people as well!

IN: Si….

FG: It’s funny: a couple of years ago I was in a hen weekend. Here en Marbella, and we were all laying by the pool. And this guy was with his little kid playing… A toddler, and he was picking him up, throwing him – like just playing around. But every time he picked up a kid because he’d heard us, he started going ‘Gibraltar, español’. Every time he threw the kid. And every time he do that…. You were there, ¿no?

FG: Yes…

FG: Yes. And the waiter refused because we were Gibraltarian….

FG: Yes… We had a really bad time in that hotel….

FG: He refused to serve us and he…

FG: Took ages to take our order, and was reluctant to serve us…

FG: And we never ever… Ever… I’ve never had that problem up the coast. We’ve always been welcomed by the Spanish people; they know that we will put a lot of money into it as well.

FG: Pero a veces te toman de tonto y…

FG: Pero también nosotros en Gib. somos igual con Español a veces.

FG: Yes….

FG: I was just going to say…

FG: …Porque los sloppy, porque losPorque esto, lo otro¿No?  And it’s really sad. Porque al final del día son gente. Yes, personas como tú y yo, it’s just obviously they…

FG: But that’s what I’m saying you say all these things you are saying no porque los sloppy o esto… But then, if you actually like… If there was a Spanish person here, or downstairs, you’d help them all the same: you’d speak to them just as nicely so…

FG: Is a bit more the language barrier for me. Because I want to be with somebody that I can fully express myself…

FG: For me as well.

FG: I feel the same. To go out with a Spanish guy it’s too hard work.

FG: And I can do that in English… But not in Spanish fully.

FG: But the same like I wouldn’t go out with a Spanish guy, wouldn’t want to go out with a German guy, wouldn’t want to go out with a Swiss guy.

FG: Yes…

FG: Just because they are not going to understand lo Llanito and I need someone who is un Llanito, ¿Tú sabes?

FG: No, but going back to the Llanito mentality…

FG: I was dating a lot of time with an English guy, and he didn’t get a lot of the stuff. And he used to feel really left out when we were seated on the table. He used to… He just didn’t get things, and I had to be constantly explaining.

FG: It’s cliquey.

FG: And it’s like… So, in the same way that like I said Spanish, I would prefer not to be with an English guy as well. I want a Llanito, really.

IN: But your grandmothers did that. They married people out, non-Spanish people.

FG: But I think it’s maybe as well… Back in the day, it was an opportunity for something better, ¿no?  Economically, I think.

IN: Can you explain?

FG: Sorry, carry on…

FG: Bueno, it was, for example…

IN: A ver

FG: My granny… Bueno, she’s… She might be now on a hundred or something, but she passed away years ago, ¿no?  I think, back then, en el Campo, es que no había nada, ¿no?  Estaban muertos de hambre, ¿no?  Para decir la verdad….

FG: Yes.

FG: That was a way of maybe of… Of….

FG: Before… There wasn’t so much of a distinction between the people of La Línea and the people of Gibraltar.

FG: That’s true.

FG: I think the language barrier was a lot smaller. So, like: the Gibraltarians spoke Spanish like they did… I think the culture was, it was just a lot more balanced. And I think now, because of the border closure and because of everything that happened, it’s become more English….

IN: Yes…

FG: And they stayed there Spanish. I think before, we… Our culture was a lot closer to Spanish than it is nowadays. And I think that’s why.

FG: Bueno, but you hear as well – maybe back in the day – cuando venían los marineros y cosa así… They were: “No nos gustan los ingleses aquí, ¿porque no se van para casa?” 

FG: The thing is that, having two languages is better than just having one.

FG: It’s not that your English is any worse…

FG: Cuando estaba en Guatemala, I was there I was like hablando con todo el mundo, and if I was English I could have no way have done that. I would be with the book there trying to….

FG: Translate…

FG: It gives you a lot of flexibility…

FG: Even in places like America, where you have lot of Mexicans working, hey… The second you, like, start speaking Spanish – or they know that you understand Spanish – they treat you differently…

All: Yes…Warmer

FG: …It’s more like you are family: like a family kind of thing, ¿no? So, they treat you like a lot different.

FG: That happened to me in London, yes….

FG: That’s another thing as well, I think like, more I wouldn’t say the Spanish, no? but more like the Hispanic Latino culture is more…. They hold like family values a lot higher… Than, for example, maybe…

All: Yes… Gels us together

FG: …The English culture and stuff… Which is something, as well, I think that maybe I questioned myself when I was eighteen and I went over, why I was so different…. I think it was more, the core values, ¿no?  How you are as a person… How you connect…

FG: I found that weird, my housemate always explained that in her house this was… In, muchas cosas… So, she was eighteen. In her house her mum had stopped cooking for her when she was about sixteen. She cooked for herself…

FG: Yes…

FG: Once you are eighteen, afuera de la casa.

FG: …Se lavan las manos de ti, basically… Get to a certain age and that’s it.

FG: Here we have the thing, whereby when we are…

FG: Yes… We are thirty, and we are still: “Quiero el potage”.

FG: And your grandparents feed you like… Excessively…

FG: They can never give you enough food…

FG: …It’s a thing here, that like grandparents will overly feed you like: you go there, and no matter how much you eat, they will be like – “No has comido nada”… Like, “la pobre”. Or, whatever, ¿no?  What else I was going to say?…

FG: I think it’s a lot more, apart from languages. I think it’s that, ¿no? Those….

FG: Those values.

FG: The Llanitos go over, I went over… Like, I remember I went over with a suitcase full of food. My mom had cooked all frozen, and I would put it in the freezer there so I had like the mince for Shepherd’s pie, hecho yaY, ya… All I had to do is boil the potatoes, and put it on like… My mom would like help me like that, ¿no? And everyone goes over like, with aceitunas y comoA mí no me gusta el jamón serrano, pero comen jamón serrano, salchichón, todas esas cosas. Like home comforts… That you don’t have there.

FG: Yes… and while we’re on the subject, you might find this interesting. I don’t know if you saw it, but a friend of mine posted something on ‘Speak Freely’ a while ago. Are you on ‘Speak Freely’ on ‘Facebook’…

IN: No, I’m not, I probably should be…

FG: She was doing a study for something – I don’t know what it was. For some course or maybe: I don’t know. And she went to the archives, I don’t know where in London. And came up with a letter, reporting…. Did you guys seen it?

All: No, I didn’t

FG: …Reporting from… I think it was… It must have been from World War Two, must have been ¿no?  I don’t know… From somebody in government: the soldiers – I don’t know what. Reporting back from England to Gib… Sorry, they were reporting to Gib. on the evacuees. And they were talking about how Gibraltarians attached an undue what was it? If I can find it, I’ll show you, but it was so interesting, and a very big importance to food. And they weren’t understanding the whole rations concept…

FG: And, basically, Gibraltarians… I think food brings Gibraltarians together, like…

FG: Yes, we got food here now, you know what I’m talking about?

FG: Yes, but we see food as like a family thing. A get together it’s excessive, like…

FG: But that’s what used to happen to me in the UK. I’d go shopping with my Irish friends, and she’s with a basket, and me with the big shopping trolley, llenito de comida. And they were like: “are you feeding a family?” “No, it’s just me… for the week…”

FG: And, also, I don’t know you guys: but we tend to cook more food. There is always everything in the oven, whatever like fast food type thing, ¿no?

FG: Yes, it’s more like a Mediterranean culture as well, ¿no? It’s all very… It’s all written around food.

FG: You go to like a party, maybe in UK, and for example: here, you… So, let’s say we’re like six people and I’m doing a dinner party, I’d probably cook for twelve. Whereas in UK, if it’s six people, they’ll probably cook for four, maybe. So it’s like, smaller portions… Here it’s like excessive. We all say, you go to Morrison’s at Christmas, and there’s nothing on the shelves.

FG: Lo que pasa en our Christmas, I remember, when I used to go back to uni., I’d take back the pictures. And my housemate was like: “Bueno, de que está hablando ¿no?” Bueno, obviously in English, ¿no? I showed her a picture of la pata de jamón on the kitchen counter, and she would be…

FG: They think it’s barbaric!

FG: Mortified, she would be like: “what the hell?” Like….

FG: That happens: my boyfriend is English and he came over for the first time to spend Christmas with us…

FG: Horrified?

FG: No, que va, he…  He loves to eat! It was like: there was gambas, calamares

FG: Y tu madre!

FG: Y mi madre, que fuera el jamón, el turkey, el pavo, y me dice “es que no puedo más”. ¡No podía más!

FG: I think we are really lucky that we don’t… Actually, I think we can reap more the benefits on what we have… Pero yo digo…

FG: But I appreciate how lucky we are, I do, and I think going to uni. and coming back makes you realize….

FG: It’s a good eye opener.

FG: …it’s like ok, you go out, you drink too much maybe, and you know that…. That you’ll be taken care of even the taxi driver would help you or… You know what I mean? A neighbour could help you…. In the UK, you feel alone. You know what I mean?

 

» Identity, La Línea, Language, Spanish culture » Focus group: Constructed diversity vs...
On 09/02/2017
By Andrew Canessa

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