Congratulations Martha Popescus for winning the “Best College Honors Thesis Project” award; click to read about Martha’s project.

Martha Popescu, a graduating senior in the Department of Anthropology at UofL and a Grawemeyer Scholar, has produced a senior thesis selected to receive the “Best College Honors Thesis Project” award in the Social Sciences Division. This award will be listed in the May 2023 Commencement Program ( Martha will also be recognized for this achievement at the Honors Program Convocation on Friday, May 12th, 2023. In responding to many congratulatory messages that she received from the Anthro faculty and staff, Martha said “I’m happy and honored to be able to represent the department in this way.” We wish Martha continued success in her future endeavors.

Below are the title and abstract of Martha’s senior thesis project:

Interpreting San Cecilio: Ritual and Discourse in a Granadan Celebration (in Spain)

The romería de San Cecilio is an annual, local short pilgrimage and celebration of the patron saint of Granada, a city in Andalusia, Spain. The romería takes place at the Abbey of Sacromonte, a monastery built on top of the site where San Cecilio’s remains were found as part of the famous discoveries of the Lead Books of Granada in the late sixteenth century. These books were ultimately declared to be Islamic forgeries, yet the romería persists today as a granadino, or Granadan, tradition. Consisting of both a Mass at the Abbey as well as a popular celebration, the romería is attended by a variety of groups, including the municipal government, the clergy of the city, locals, and tourists. In this thesis, I use publicly available documents (including videos) to describe these groups perspectives on the contemporary romería, and also criticisms of those perspectives. To contextualize these perspectives and criticisms more fully, I draw upon the history of the romería’s beginnings in sixteenth and seventeenth century Granada, the era immediately following the embattled transfer of power of Islamic Granada to the Catholic Monarchs in the late fifteenth century. I analyze these multiple discourses through sociocultural theories: theories of ritual and pilgrimage developed by Victor and Edith Turner, John Eade, and Michael Sallnow, and theories of confluence. I round out my analysis by comparing the understanding offered by these theories with the only contemporary analysis of San Cecilio’s romería, demonstrating how the obscurity of this analysis belies its usefulness. Ultimately, I show how the romería functions as a complex site in the (re)production of granadino identity: the differing perspectives and interpretations I analyze do not vitiate the romería, but rather invigorate it.