Oral memory of life in huts and shacks, El Campo de Gibraltar (Cádiz, Spain)   

Goal: An approach to daily life and survival in the region of Campo de Gibraltar (Cádiz, Spain) during the 20th century, through in-depth interviews to inhabitants in shacks (or barraks, as local inhabitants name their houses) in urban living spaces, and small villages or scattered sets of huts in hilly rural habitations. The study focuses on two specific areas: the town of La Línea, an emblematic urban border zone with thousands of shacks registered in 1960 and with one of the highest population densities in Andalusia; and the extensive mountains of Tarifa as an example of rural and autonomous life.

The inherent instability linked to underdevelopment conditioned the families’ frequent relocations and housing moves, although they continued to live in self-built slums, either with natural resources such as reeds, branches, mud and stones; or with boards, jerry cans and cardboard obtained from the neighboring colony of Gibraltar. The architecture and urban planning of the region survives in the memory of these families and still shows in courtyards, walls and sidewalks of the urban areas, as well as in the converted country houses.

Researcher: Beatriz Díaz Martínez

 Funding:  Self-funding. The interview phase was partially funded by Antonio Escolar Pujolar, within the project “The other toxic fumes of El Campo de Gibraltar”.

More information: Memoirs.

Written material: The results are collected in two books that prioritize the voice of the families, supported with images (photos and designs) that walk the reader through the uses and characteristics of the household. In the book «Vivir en chozas» («Living in huts»), the author intertwines the study with her own biographical journey during the research, exposing the connection between the person and the object of study, which helps to understand the methodology that guides her work. Her second book is «Con cuatro tablas y cuatro chapas. Vivir en Barracas» («With just four boards and four plates: Living in shacks»). Both books are available in the links below.