A naval battle in Vallecas (Madrid): utopia as a device to build identity

Poster in 2008's naval battle. Photo: Plug_in_baby (Flickr)

2011 will be the 30th year in which, in the outskirts of Madrid, and despite the ban of the City Council, the Naval Battle of Vallekas will take place: a popular and politically engaged fiesta that celebrates the independence of the neighborhood and its the proclamation of Vallecas as a seaport. Anthropologist Elizabeth Lorenzi, got involved in the neighborhood since 1998, and recently published an ehtnography of the fiesta (downloadable for free in PDF) in which, beginning from the Naval Battle, she analizes the urban and social transformations of Vallecas in the last decades, the role played in it by the grassroot movements, and the consequences of all this in the building and maintanance of the neighborhood identity. The Naval Battle celebrates and strenghtens the vallekanismo: the neighborhood as a frame for social mobilizations. Through this symbolic device, the long history of political demands, neighbors’ struggles, anarchist movements of Vallecas, become part of the process of constructing the neighborhood identity.

Vallekas is a seaport!, this absurd and a priori yelling, 300 km far from the beach, represent the assertion of utopia as a driving force for change. We don’t ask, we affirm: Vallekas has a beach and our neighborhood is a seaport.

[audio: http://periferiesurbanes.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Marineros_de_Secano-El_Mecanico_del_Swing.mp3]
  • Elisabeth LORENZI FERNÁNDEZ (2007) Vallekas, puerto de mar. Fiesta, identidad de barrio y movimientos sociales, Madrid: Traficantes de sueños. [Download PDF][Buy the book, used]
  • Vallecas’ “Batalla Naval” in the webpage of the Cofradía Marinera. The battle in 2011 will take place beginning from july, 17th under the slogan Get wet and take over your plaza! in support to the Acampada de barrio de Vallecas [RadioVallekas][TeleK]
  • Sixto RODRIGUEZ LEAL (2007) De Vallecas al Valle del Kas. Los años vividos (20-11-75/19-1-86) Madrid: Radio Vallekas [review]
  • Sixto RODRIGUEZ LEAL (2007) “La iglesia en Vallecas: del padre Llanos a Enrique de Castro, 1955-1987”, en Revista de dialectología y tradiciones populares, vol. LXII n. 1, january-june. [PDF]
  • Observatorio Metropolitano (2007) Madrid ¿La suma de todos? Globalización, territorio, desigualdad. Madrid: Traficantes de sueños [disponible en PDF]
  • Elizabeth LORENZI (2008) “La memoria como herramienta didáctica: la participación juvenil en Vallecas”, about a workshop carried out in high schools by a neighborhood association, through the historical memory of the neighborhood[bajar PDF]