The Cultural Uniqueness of Portuguese-Spanish Border Landscapes

Pedro Albuquerque, PhD in history and archaeology, researcher
University of Seville, Spain
Uniarq, University of Lisbon
Centre of Global Studies, Aberta University, Portugal
e-mail: albuquerque@us.es, pedro.albuquerque@campus.ul.pt


This paper aims to present topics for describing unique features of social relations and interaction in borderlands, as reflected in tangible and intangible heritage. Considering that there are phenomena that can only take place in border contexts, we examine the Lower Guadiana basin (on the PortugalñSpain border) as a potential case study for heritage enhancement. Historically, this territory is part of Europe’s oldest stable political border, as it was delimited in 1297 (Treaty ofAlcañices). This condition was a determinant for the configuration of a unique historical human landscape, with villages founded for surveillance purposes, as well as buildings (fortresses or houses for guards) along the borders. In contrast, the separations created by the states provide clues about the development of unofficial social relations and hybrid manifestations (e.g., smuggling, language confluence). This article provides insight into the importance of interconnections and mutual influences in the formation and consolidation of unique cultural realities in borderlands that contradict the image of rupture and separation created by mainstream historiography. With this overview, it is possible to identify some topics for further research on borderlands, especially in the current geopolitical context, that is, after the elimination of border checkpoints in the Schengen Area and the loss of the political importance of these peripheral territories. This situation leads to the depopulation of border territories, especially in the hinterland, which can inspire the examination of the particularities of this human landscape from a multidisciplinary point of view. It should be noted that the Guadiana River is navigable between its mouth and Mértola, which has determined human occupation, interregional contact and its defence since the eighth century BC.

Keywords: borderlands, Guadiana River basin, Luso-Spanish border, heritage


How to cite:
Albuquerque, P. (2022). “The Cultural Uniqueness of Portuguese-Spanish Border Landscapes.” Journal of Comparative Studies 15 (44), 184–196. https://doi.org/10.59893/jcs.15(44).010