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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