The “indignant” pilgrim: Cultural narratives of crisis and renewal in the 15M movement in Spain
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On Saturday July 23, 2011, Guillermo, a young student from Lleida (Catalonia, Spain), who had been camping out since the beginning of the 15M movement, arrived in Madrid after walking over 450 kilometers, in one of the six columns that had crossed the Iberian Peninsula during the previous weeks. The “Popular Indignant March”had been conceived as an original way of rounding off the occupations of hundreds of squares throughout Spain, their objective being Puerta del Sol in Madrid, the first square to be occupied. On the way, which was from the urban periphery toward the center, passing by the rural Spanish plateau, the population’s claims and complaints were to be gathered and taken to the agora of the participatory democracy. The experience of having groups of people walking from different origins with a common destination evokes the classical anthropological experience of the religious pilgrimage. Spain’s best example is the Camino de Santiago, which has attracted thousands of pilgrims from all over Europe since the Middle Ages. When we ask Guillermo about this parallelism, he denies any spiritual content, although his account of Camino de Sol is like the fulfillment of a civic promise, the ritualization of a festive and revindicative appropriation of the territory, the colonization of a terra incognita that they had taken over two months before, on 15M, when the hashtag #spanishrevolution became a trending topic within the social networks. The article relates this experience to the narratives of the 15M movement and to the situation of young people in Spain in times of crisis.