Culture of the Week: Gibraltar (United Kingdom)

Gibraltar’s culture is very diverse. While there are prominent British and Spanish cultural influences, the ethnicities of Gibraltarians are a mix of Spaniards, Genoese, Maltese, Portuguese and British and other cultures. The main religious groups are Muslims, Jewish, Hindus and Christians, though many practice a syncretism between those religions and other worldviews/spiritualities. Though it is still a territory of the UK, the cultural identity of Gibraltar is strong. Most are also very proud to be part of the UK. The majority of people, speak Llanito (Yanito), which is a language that reflects the cultural mix of the region.  English is used for official situations, and Spanish is also used frequently. In many ways, the inhabitants reflect the Third Culture Kid/ Cross Culture Kid identity discussed by Ruth Van Reken in her research.  Despite the diversity and openness of the Gibraltarians to mix with other cultures, Moroccans and lower class expats/migrant workers are not valued by some and often face discrimination.

Along with its rich ethnic heritage, Gibraltar is a centre of the arts and culture, and it’s  small 4 square miles(6.5 square kilometres) territory is constantly teeming with activity.   Here are a few facts and tips for those visiting or working there:

    1. Inclusion, tolerance, and peacefulness are highly valued by Gibraltarians.
    2.  Land and housing are expensive.
    3.  The food there tends to reflect the cultural mix of the area and has strong roots in Spanish, Italian, English, and Jewish cuisine. There are no general food taboos.  Speaking of food, Calentita, a chickpea pie of Genoese origin, is the national dish.
    4. The UK military has a strong presence there and used to be the main economy of Gibraltar, aside from the shipping industry. However, tourism has become a lot more popular, and there are several natural and manufactured resources that have helped Gibraltar succeed on the world’s stage.  Speaking of goods, Gibraltar is a duty-free harbour.
    5.  The upper class of Gibraltar consists of a few families of Genoese heritage, and grammatically correct English (aka. ‘The Queen’s English)  is a status symbol.
    6.  Traditional business culture is observed, and suits and ties are seen as  symbolic of a ‘good job.’
    7.  Proper English pronunciation is a symbol of upward social mobility. Suits and ties are symbols of white-collar jobs.
    8. Women are expected to keep out of political life and participate only in social, cultural and charity affairs.  Fewer women participate in business than men, as the society upholds more conservative values.  Citizenship can also only be transferred from generation to generation from Fathers to their children.
    9.  Gibraltarians prefer face-to-face interactions, and family is important.

Here’s a video from one of Gibraltar’s most famous bands:

References:
Benady, Mesod (“Tito”). “The Jewish Community of Gibraltar” In R. D. Barnett and W. M. Schwab, eds., The Western Sephardim: The Sephardi Heritage , vol. II, 1989.
Culture. (2017.). HM Government of Gibralter. Retrieved March 29, 2017, from https://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/new/culture.
Caruana, Charles. The Rock Under a Cloud , 1989.
Finlayson, Thomas J. The Fortress Came First , 1991.
Haller, Dieter. “Romancing Patios: Die Aneignung der Stadt im Rahmen der ethnischen und nationalen Neubestimmung in Gibraltar” In Kokot, Hengartner, and Wildner, eds., Kulturwissenschaftliche Sichtweisen auf die Stadt , 1999.
Jackson, Sir William G. F. The Rock of the Gibraltarians—A History of Gibraltar , 1987.
Kramer, Johannes. “Bevölkerung und Sprachen in Gibraltar.” Europa Ethnica 42:88–96, 1985.
Moyer, Melissa Greer. Analysis of Code Switching in Gibraltar , 1993.
Stanton, Gareth. “Guests in the Dock—Moroccan Workers on Trial in the Colony of Gibraltar.” Critique of Anthropology 11 (4):361–379, 1991.
Organisations. (2017). HM Government of Gibralter. Retrieved March 29, 2017, from http://www.culture.gi/organisations

©Allison J. Weaver Consulting, LLC 2017

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