No-one I know who lives here ever takes Deià for granted. But it’s easy to forget just how remarkable it is that this colony of artists, self-created characters and black sheep actually exists. This summer anthropologist, author and long-time resident Jackie Waldren is sharing her special insight into Deià in a series of unique Summer Workshops, taking place in the village between 5 and 15 September.
Jackie has lived in the village since the late 1950s. She’s seen it both change and stay essentially the same since the days when giants like Robert Graves, painter and filmmaker Len Lye and the legendary Ava Gardner strolled our pavements and paths. I can’t think of anyone who I’d rather have tell me the story of Deià than Jackie. I’d actually quite like to have my memory erased so I could learn about the village all over again from her.
Jackie’s Summer Workshops will take place when the weather is perfect for exploring the village and absorbing what has made it ‘a refuge for generations escaping the excesses of Western materialist societies’. People who take part in the workshops will experience Deià at a time of ‘reunions, laughter, music, Mediterranean food, heated discussions of politics, art, and memories of so many famous and eccentric visitors’.
But this won’t just be a lotus-eating escapade. Jackie will be offering people who take part in the Summer Workshops the opportunity to ‘anthropologise’ their experiences and get behind the myth of the village. And, if you sign up for a Summer Workshop – which I hope you do – you might be tempted to reinvent yourself in Deià as so many have, including Jackie herself.
Los Angeles native Jackie discovered Deià in 1959 when she was 21 and she’s had a home in the village ever since. As she said in a recent interview with Agnieszka Gratza for The Financial Times, ‘I walked and walked and walked, and I slid down one of the [olive] terraces and sat there and looked around me. I was just overwhelmed by the beauty of nature. It was vibrating.’
In 1962, Jackie co-founded the Deià Archaeological and Anthropological Museum and Research Centre with her husband Bill. She received her doctorate at Oxford where she was a lecturer and research associate in Social Anthropology at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Linacre College. Here she specialised in the social anthropology of expat communities. She has written and edited several books and many articles about social anthropology and gender studies.
Jackie’s book Insiders and Outsiders: Paradise and Reality in Mallorca is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding Deià.
The September 5 t0 15 Summer Workshop is sure to fill up quickly. Contact Jackie at firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your place.
The photo of Robert Graves comes from this blog, filled with reminiscences of life in the Balearics.