Zambomba Authenticity Amidst Commercialization: A Debate around Jerez and Beyond [EN]

Taylor Elton


Zambombas, celebrations leading up to the Christmas holidays in certain areas of Andalusia, have transformed drastically in the last half a century. What was once a strongly communal, localized practice has converted into a tourist attraction, sponsored by brands and political groups during the Christmas season. The celebrations departed from private to more public arenas, from community-based and largely participatory events to staged shows in theaters, flamenco peñas, and even bars since their revitalization in the 1980s, after a brief period of decline of the more “traditional” form. This work aims to analyze how celebrations depicted in films of more “traditional” celebrations difer from those in the twenty-first century, to determine perceived shifts in the authenticity of zambomba celebrations, through analysis of two documentaries, the 1971 episode of Rito y Geografia del Cante, “Navidad Flamenca” and the 2020 documentary “Zambomba de Jerez y Arcos de la Frontera,” to ofer a local perspective of the debate around the efect of consumer culture on zambomba and the unique impact of flamenco on zambomba jerezana. Through these resources, as well as my personal experience celebrating zambombas in modern Jerez, this work will examine questions such as how commercialization and tourism have afected the perceived “authenticity” of zambombas and how inhabitants of Baja Andalucía have responded in various manners to said commercialization. On a larger scale, this work will also study depictions of cultural practice in documentary, and the efect of “staged performance” on the celebrations shown in film.


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