Aurélie Épron, Dario Nardini

Symbols and belonging. Breton wrestling as an expression of Breton history and «identity»

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Traditional Wrestling; Brittany; Cultural Identity; Symbols; Gouren; Heritage.

Breton wrestlers learn and perform Breton wrestling (gouren) in a way that consistently refers to the generic and indefinite Celtic/peasant past of both the practice and Brittany. In this way, gouren maintains strong local and traditional connotations that contribute to re-defining a sense of historical awareness and regional belonging in contemporary France. However, these features have been mostly selected and reassessed over the last century as a consequence of the «sportization» of the practice that started in the late 1920s. From an interdisciplinary point of view combining historical anthropology and ethnography, this article examines the way people make use of history to signify what they are doing in the present. Confronting this with historiographical data, this paper examines the symbols and performative aspects that have made gouren such an emblematic activity: a Breton physical heritage.

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