Sustainable identity. Tourism as opportunity or menace. Extracting parameters for the study of identity sustainability. Proposals based on a case study in Santiago de Compostela

As a part of a wider project focusing the study of the discourses over the city of Santiago de Compostela, Galiza, and the pilgrimage trough its different trails, we have tried to elaborate for specific application to the study of touristic phenomenon the concept of “sustainable identity.” Besides the theoretical concept, explored by my colleague Elias J. Torres Feijó, my paper aims to study, through the specific case of Compostela, the possibility of elaborating a range of parameters useful for measuring the sustainability degree of the identity of a given community, taking into considerations the different aspects involved, from the perceptions of the insiders to the vision of the foreigners, using both statistical tools and qualitative analysis.
Our goal is to know at what extent and in what specific ways tourism, and the interaction between locals and tourists, as well as their respective expectations interfere with the building process of local identity, the items selected for its construction and the dynamic definition of identity boundaries between communities.
For the aforementioned purpose we have developed a framework that establishes the items that, in our opinion, set ground for identifying and measuring the degree of sustainability of the identity of a community. Among them, we have selected three that we would explore in this paper through the data already collected by the research team:
a) The narratives that posses a wider potential range and influence, dealing with aspects of identity: legal texts, textbooks, institutional and government hierarchies and structures, as well as cultural institutions, exploring the elements used to set identity.
b) The discourses expressed through products outletted as community specific and proper items (as literary texts, documentaries, websites…).
c) The comparison between external and internal images, analyzing if the items and hierarchies match in both sides of the identity boundary, expressed through interviews conducted with tourists and visitants in the town of Santiago de Compostela.

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Keywords: identity, Sustainability, tourism
Categories: Tourism and its potential as a social force