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Research & Documentation

The SomVallBas methodology and theoretical frame is the result of Smithsonian curators in continuous conversation with local community members and scholars, including anthropologists, historians, linguists, archeologists, archivists, librarians, ethnomusicologists, and historians of religion.

Together we have created an enormous collection of documentation dedicated solely to the Vall d’en Bas, which is now part of the Smithsonian’s permanent collection. It will also be housed in two Catalan archives. We will also share local stories about the Vall d’en Bas environment, food, musical traditions, artisans, and craftsmanship with an international audience.

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First, our research team scouted out all written materials about the Vall d’en Bas—from newspaper clippings to books, festival programs to hiking guidebooks. This first step situated the project within previous findings and allows us to develop relevant research questions.

Next, the research team grew to incorporate fourteen local university students from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Universitat de Girona to conduct more than 600 interviews—that’s twenty percent of the Vall d’en Bas population—over the course of eight weeks. The goal was to create a map of the region’s living cultural traditions and understand the community’s priorities.

In more than 800 hours of recorded interviews, we identified respected members of the community, meaningful places, exceptionally creative people, widespread recipes and their ingredients, and salient objects and their rituals. We also paid careful attention to document extant social networks.

Finally, in collaboration with the Directorate General of Popular Culture and Cultural Associations of the Department of Culture of the Generalitat of Catalonia, we are inventorying the traditions we documented during the fieldwork. In addition to listing the living cultural traditions of the valley, we describe, catalogue, and indicate the degree of endangerment according to the standard practices of the Generalitat.


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