Gaspar Mairal Buil


Associate  Professor of Social Anthropology

Universidad de Zaragoza (Spain)


Facultad de Ciencias Humanas y de la Educación

Pza. Constitución S/N

22001 Huesca (Spain)


I earned a Ph.D. as a Social Anthropologist at the University Complutense of Madrid in 1990 and Carmelo Lisón, the most prominent Spanish anthropologist, was my thesis supervisor. I have been teaching Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Zaragoza from 1982. On the other hand  I have completed several periods of fieldwork:  eight months in the Spanish Pyreenes between 1980 and 81, twenty four months in the city of Barbastro (Spain) between 1983 and 85,  six months in the Mediano reservoir (Spanish Pyrenees) in 1990, eight months in  the river Ésera valley (Spanish Pyrenees) in 1992, three months in the Monegros region (Spain) in 1996, four months in the Atlantic coast of Galicia (Spain) between 2006 and 2007 and a short field work visit to Orcasitas (Mexico) in 2010 and together with Prof. Richard Stoffle and his team from the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropolgy at the University of Arizona.
From these fieldwork experiences I have developed some research subjects and my own research lines about them. I have worked powerfully and published  widely on:

Collective Memory

Urban Anthropology

Local and Political Identities in Spain

Social Impact of Dams Construction and Water Policies

Risk Representation, Communication and Theory.

I founded and led a research group Estudios sobre la sociedad del riesgo (Studies on Risk Society) between 2003 and 2010 and I have taught doctorate courses on this issue at the Universities of Zaragoza, Corunna, Miguel Hernández of Elche and  Pablo Olavide of Seville  for several years. After more than a decade of research and ethnographical work I have produced some theoretical results disseminated through  papers, articles and congresses both in English and Spanish. I am working at present in two books in order to release these results in a complete and organized way. I am about to finish the first book under the title of “ A Decade of Risk. Situations and Narratives of Risk in Spain ” and my future plans go to write a second one: “An Anthropological History of Risk”.


Degrees Earned and Academicc Honours:

-      Ph.D. 1990  (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) Summa cum laude

-      B.A. 1982 Sociology and Social Anthropology (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) Sobresaliente

Academic Positions:

-      Profesor No  Permanente. Universidad de Zaragoza. 1982-1986

-      Profesor Titular de Escuelas Universitarias. Universidad de Zaragoza. 1986-1993

-      Profesor Titular de Universidad. Universidad de Zaragoza. 1993-present

-      Head of  Department of Psychology and Sociology at the University of Zaragoza (Spain) 2002-2004

Visiting Professorships and Scholarships:

Visiting Professorship:

-      Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (Spain) 1993-1997, 1999, 2002 and 2005

-      Universidade Fernando Pessoa of Porto (Portugal) 1996

-      Universidad de Oviedo  (Spain) 1997

-      Universidad de Cantabria (Spain) 1999

-      Universidad Rovira i Virgili  of Tarragona(Spain) 1999

-      Université de Pau et du Pays de L’ Adour  (France) 2000

-      Universidad de A Coruña (Spain) 2005

-      Universidad Pablo Olavide of Seville (Spain) 2007-2009 and 2011

-      Universidad Miguel Hernández of Elche (Spain) 2008-2009 and 2011

Visiting Scholarships:

-      Centre for Public Sector Research (CEFOS) University of Gothenburg (Sweden) 2000. Funded by the European Science Foundation (ESF)

-      Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA). University of Arizona (USA) 2010. Funded by the Autonomous Government of Aragon (Spain)

-      Society for the Humanities. Cornell University (USA) Fellow 2012-2013

Invited Lectures:

-      “La memoria colectiva en acción” (Collective Memory in Action) Casa de Velázquez. Madrid (Spain) 1995

-      “ La sociedad de riesgos”. (Risk Society)  Real Academia de Ciencias Morales y Políticas (Spanish Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences) Madrid. Spain. 1997

-      “ Risk within Culture. A Water Conflict in the River Esera” School of Geography. Oxford University (UK) 1998

-      “Las prácticas institucionales de la Antropología Social en España” (The Institutional Practices of Spanish Social Anthropology) Universidade  de Tras-Os-Montes e Alto Douro. (Portugal) 1999

-       “ Risk, Equity and the “Invention” of a Minority”. University of Gothenburg. Glumslöv (Sweden) 2001

-      “Agua, paisaje y nación”. (Water, Lanscape and Nation)  Casa de Velázquez. Madrid (Spain) 2004

-      “ El riesgo como narrativa”. (Risk as a Narrative) Universidad de Zaragoza (Spain) 2005

-      “ Un modelo narrativo de la comunicación del riesgo”. (A Narrative Model for the Communication of Risk) Universidad de A Coruña (Spain) 2007

-      “ El paisaje o la mirada del 0tro”. (Lanscape or Other’s gaze) Casa de Velázquez. Madrid. 2007

-  Water Crisis in the Mediterranean Spain: Water policy as a Gospel of Redemption”. Water Resources Research Centre. University of Arizona (USA) 2010

- ” Times of Culture”. School of Anthropology. University of Arizona (USA) 2010

- ” Narrativas de riesgo” ( Narratives of Risk) Colegio de San Luis. San Luis Potosí (Mexico) 2010

Invited Papers

-      “From Economism to Culturalism: the social impact of dam projects in the Esera River”. 4th European Association of Social Anthropologist  Biennial Conference. Barcelona (Spain) 1996

-      “Social Disarticulation and Water Policy in Aragon”. Second International Conference on Resettlement Issues. Queen Elizabeth House. Oxford University (UK) 1996

-      “Los conflictos del agua y la construcción del riesgo en España” I Congreso Ibérico sobre Planificación y Gestión de Aguas. (First Iberian Congress on Water planning and management)  Universidad de Zaragoza (Spain) 1998

-      “Situated Risk: Anthropologizing Risks and Hazards”. 6th European Association of Social Anthropology Biennial Conference. University of Krakov (Poland) 2000

-      “Narratives of Risk”. RiskCom 2006. University of Gothenburg (Sweden) 2006

-      “A Narrative Model of the Communication of Risk”. 16th Society for Risk Analysis-Europe Annual Meeting. The Hague (Netherlands) 2007

-      “La montaña frente al llano: Ecología política de un conflicto territorial”. (Highland and Lowlands: Political Ecology and Territorial Conflict) Las transformaciones contemporáneas de las montañas  en el sur de Europa.  (Contemporary Transformations of Highlands in Southern Europe) Universidad de Barcelona (Spain) 2007

-      “The Narrative Structure of Risk in the Media”. First International Sociological Association (ISA) Forum of Sociology. University of Barcelona (Spain) 2008

-      “ The New Water Culture in Spain”  Conference on Water Sharing and Culture in the Mediterranean. Institute of European Studies. Cornell University. 2009

-      “Narratives of Nature and Culture: “Tales” of bears in the Pyrenees”. 15th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management. The International Association for Society and Natural Resources. Vienna (Austria) 2009.

-      “ Spain: between a “grand” or an environmental water policy”  Water Scarcity and Policy in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Cornell University. 4th November 2011

Memberhips and other Professional:

-      President of the Instituto Aragonés de Antropología (Aragonese Institute of Anthropology) at the University of Zaragoza (Spain) 1998-2000

-      Secretary of the Fundación Nueva Cultura del Agua (New Water Culture Foundation) (Spain)

-      Vice-President of the Centro Humanístico “Lisón-Donald” La Puebla de Alfindén (Spain) 2010-

-      Assessor of research projects for the Agencia Nacional de Evaluación y Prospectiva. Ministerio de Educación (National Evaluation and Prospective Agency. Ministry of Science and Innovation) (Spain) 2007-

-      Assessor of Sociology and Social Anthropology for foreign degrees validation.  Consejo de Universidades. Ministerio de Educación. (Board of Universities. Ministry of Education) Spain 2005-

-      Member of the Editorial Board of Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza (University of Zaragoza Press) From 1998-2008

-      External Evaluator for Journals and Revues such as “Journal of Risk Research”, “ Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning”, “ Revista de Antropología Social” (Spain), “Anduli”, (Spain), “ Revista de Dialectología y Tradiciones Populares” (Spain) and “Culturales” (Mexico)

-      Member of the jury for the “Marqués de Lozoya” award given to anthropological researches  by the Spanish Minister of Education and Culture.


Books and Monographs:

-     Antropología de una ciudad. Barbastro. (Anthropoloy of a City. Barbastro) 1995. Zaragoza: Instituto Aragonés de Antropología. 319 pp.

-     La identidad de los aragoneses. (The identity of the Aragonese)  1996.Zaragoza:  Egido Editorial. 129 pp.

-     Agua, Tierra, Riesgo y Supervivencia. (Un estudio antropológico sobre el impacto socio-cultural de la regulación del río Esera). (Water, Land, Risk and Survival. An Anthropological Study on the Social Impact of Ésera River Regulation) 1997 Zaragoza: Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza. 361 pp. (Together with José A. Bergua y Esther Puyal)

-     De Joaquín Costa al Pacto del Agua (Los aragoneses y el agua (From Joaquín Costa to the Water Pact. The Aragonese and Water). 2000. Zaragoza:  Egido Editorial.162 pp. (Together with José A. Bergua)

-     Tiempos de la Cultura. Ensayos de Antropología Histórica. (Times of Culture. Essays on Historical Anthropology) 2010 Zaragoza: Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza. 147 pp.

Chapters in Books:

-      1993 “Cementerios y Ciudades. “ En: Lisón Arcal, J. (ed.) Espacio y Cultura. Madrid: Editorial Coloquio.

-      1997 “ La Antropología aplicada”. En: Aguirre, A. (ed.) Cultura e identidad cultural. Introducción a la Antropología.. Barcelona: Ediciones Bárdenas. Pp. 247-257.

-      1998 “ From Economism to Culturalism: the Social and Cultural Construction of Risk in the River Esera ”. In: Abram, S. & Waldren, J. (eds.) Anthropological Perspectives on Local Development. Knowledge and Sentiments in conflict. London: Routledge EASA series. Pp. 75-96 .

-      1998 “ Las sociedades de riesgos”. En: Del Campo Urbano, S. (Coord.) España, sociedad industrial avanzada, vista por los nuevos sociólogos. Madrid: Tribuna Joven de la Real Academia de Ciencias Morales y Políticas. Pp. 103-124.

-      1999 “ Los conflictos del agua y la construcción del riesgo”. En: V.V.A.A. El agua a debate desde la Universidad. Hacia una nueva cultura del agua. I Congreso Ibérico sobre planificación y gestión del agua. Zaragoza: Institución Fernando el Católico (C.S.I.C.) Pp. 605-617.

-      2000 ” Joaquín Costa o la retórica de la modernización”. En: González Alcantud, J.A. y Robles Egea, A. Intelectuales y política en la crisis del fin de siglo. Barcelona: Anthropos. Pp. 175-189.

-      2000 “Tiempo, memoria e interpretación”. En: Lisón Tolosana, C. (ed.) 2000 Antropología e interpretación. Granada: Editorial de la Universidad de Granada. Pp. 93-108.

-      2001 “Joaquín Costa y sus mundos”. En: Salustiano del Campo (ed.) Historia de la Sociología española. Barcelona: Ariel Pp.50-81

-      2001 “ El Plan Hidrológico Nacional o cómo ignorar el impacto social”. In: Arrojo, P. (coord.) El Plan Hidrológico Nacional a debate. Bilbao: Bakeaz.

-      2001 “ Actores sociales en la política de aguas”. En Leandro del Moral.- Planificación hidrológica y eficiencia. Zaragoza: Fundación Ecología y Desarrollo. Pp. 59-67

-      2001 “Una sombra de riesgo”. En: VV.AA. Estructura y Cambio Social. Libro homenaje a Salustiano del Campo. Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (C.I.S.) Pp. 1161-1177.

-      2003. “ El patrimonio como versión autorizada del pasado”. En: González Alcantud, J.L. (ed.): Patrimonio y Pluralidad. Nuevas direcciones en Antropología Patrimonial. Granada: Centro de Investigaciones Etnológicas “ Angel Ganivet”. Pp. 63-79

-      2003. “ Discursos de riesgo y agonía”. En Lisón Tolosana, C. (ed.): Antropología: horizontes emotivos. Granada: Universidad de Granada. Pp 131.-143

-      2004. “ The Invention of a “Minority”. A case study from the Aragonese Pyrenees.”. En: Å. Boholm & R. Löfstedt (Eds.): Facility Siting. Risk, Power and Identity in Land Use Planning.. London: Earthscan Publications Pp. 144-160

-      2006. “ Los conflictos del agua en Agua en Aragón: una perspectiva histórica y sociológica. “ En: Cuadrat Prats, J.M. (ed.) .- El agua en el siglo XXI. Gestión y planificación. Zaragoza: Institución Fernando el Católico. Pp. 209-226

-      2007 “ La montaña frente al llano: ecología política de un conflicto territorial”. En Vaccaro, I. y Beltrán, O. (Eds.) Ecología política de los Pirineos Tremp: Garsineu Edicions. Pp.101-115

-      2007 “ Culturas de riesgo. Antropología para una sociedad científica y tecnológica.”. En: Lisón Tolosana, C. (ed.) Introducción a la Antropología Social y Cultural. Teoría, método y práctica. Madrid: Akal. Pp. 319-338

-      2008 “ Viejos y nuevos mitos aragoneses”. In Lisón Tolosana, C. (ed.) Antropología: horizontes míticos. Zaragoza: Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza. Pp. 105-132

-      2009 “ Riesgo y Narratividad”. En Ruano, J.D.- Narrativas de riesgo y acciones de confianza. La Coruña: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de La Coruña. Pp. 125-149

-      2010  “Water Policy as a Gospel of Redemption”. In Holst-Warhaft, G & Steenhuis, T. – Losing paradise. Water and Culture in the Mediterranean. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing (Ltd.) Pp.27-51

-      2010 “ Highlands and lowlands: Political Ecology and Territorial Conflict”. Vaccaro, I. & Beltrán, O..- Social and Ecological History of the Pyrenees. State, Market and Lanscape. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press Pp. 91-105 (A former 2007 Spanish book translated into English and republished in the USA)

-      “ El evangelio del agua”. In: Lisón Tolosana, C (ed.). El agua como cultura. Zaragoza: Fundación Economía Aragonesa. Pp.109-127

-      2010 “ El paisaje o la mirada del Otro”. In Lisón Tolosana, C. Antropología: horizontes estéticos. Barcelona: Editorial Anthropos. Pp. 43-65

-      2011 “ Narratives of Risk”. In Boholm, Asa.- New Perspectives on Risk Communication. London: Taylor& Francis  (A former volume of  2008 Journal of Risk Research republished as a book)

Articles and Papers:

-      1993. “Perder el Pueblo. Antropología aplicada y Política Hidráulica”. Número 2 Revista de Antropología Social. Madrid: Editorial Complutense. Pp. 185-329 1994. — 1995 “Memoria de una frontera pirenaica” Revista de Antropología Social. Número 3 Madrid: Editorial Complutense. Pp. 11- 26

-      1996 “Antropología aplicada al Riesgo”. Revista de Antropología Aplicada. Barcelona. Pp. 123-127

-      1996 “Recordar para sobrevivir. La memoria colectiva en acción”. Revista de Antropología Social. Número 5 Madrid: Editorial Complutense. Pp. 56-71

-      1998. “L´antropologia urbana en perspectiva”. Revista d´ Etnología de Catalunya. Barcelona. Núm. 12. Abril. Pp. 98-110

-      1998. “ Del Economicismo al Culturalismo: el agua y los conflictos sociales”. Demófilo. Fundación Antonio Machado. Sevilla. Pp.121-143

-      1999. “The Cemetery as an Urban Space”. Journal of Iberian Archaelogy. Oporto Pp. 145-156

-      2000″ Les lieux de l´anthropologie”. Ethnologie Française. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Pp. 299-303

-      2000 ” Una exploración etnográfica del espacio urbano”. Revista de Antropología Social. Número 9 Madrid: Editorial Complutense. Pp.177-191

-      2001 “El tiempo de la ciudad. Leyendas patrimoniales de fundación y sentido¨”. Revista de Antropología Social Número 10 Madrid: Editorial Complutense. Pp.183 210

-      2002. “ Les practiques institucionals de l´antropología social a Espanya”. Revista d´ Etnología de Catalunya. Número 20. Mayo. Pp.106-117

-      2002. “ La “invenció” d´una minoría. El conflicte per la construcció d´embassaments a l´Alt Aragó.” Revista d´ Etnología de Catalunya. Número 21. Noviembre . Pp.20-35

-      2003 “ A Risk Shadow In Spain”  Ethnos. Journal of Anthropology. Vol. 68: 2.. Londres: Routledge. Pp. 179-191

-      2004. “ Las prácticas institucionales de la Antropología Social en España”. Anuario 2003. Centro de Estudios Superiores de México y Centroamérica. Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas. México. Pp. 25-41.

-      2005 “ Los conflictos del agua en España.”. Nómadas. Instituto de Estudios Sociales Contemporáneos. Universidad Central. Bogotá y Buenos Aires. Número 22. Pp. 126-140

-      2007 “ Las paradojas de la política del agua en España” Panorama Social. Madrid: Fundación de las Cajas de Ahorros (FUNCAS). Número 5 Primer Semestre. Pp.102-115.

-      2008 “ Narratives of Risk”. Journal of Risk Research Vol 10 N.1-2. Taylor& Francis Group . Pp. 41-55

-      2008 “ Tiempos “duros” y “blandos. Un ensayo de antropología e historia”. Antropología, historia y fuente oral. Pp- 121-135

-     2011 “The History and the Narrative of Risk in the Media”. Health, Risk and Society Vol.13: 1. Pp. 65- 79


Forthcoming publications:

-      “ Decision-Making in a Narrative Context of Risk: the Prestige Disaster”. For a monographic volume Horizons of Choice in FOCAAL- Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology.

-      “Invitación a la antropología humanista de Lisón” (An Invitation to the Humanist Anthropology of Lisón) For a volume of Anthropos, a Spanish revue, consecrated to the work of Carmelo Lisón Tolosana, today`s most relevant Spanish anthropologist.


Research Projects:

-      Research Project: Estudios sobre la Sociedad del Riesgo ( Studies on Risk Society)

Funded by the Gobierno de Aragón (Department of Science, University and Research) From 2008 to 2010

Main Researcher:  Gaspar Mairal.

-      Research Project: Narrativas de Riesgo (Narratives of Risk)

Funded by the Gobierno de Aragón (Department of Science, University and Research) From 2005  to 2007

Main researcher: Gaspar Mairal

-      Research Project: Riesgo e  integración social (Risk and Social Integration)

Funded by the Gobierno de Aragón (Department of Science, University and Research) From 2005  to 2007

Main Researcher: Gaspar Mairal

-      Research Project: Estudios sobre el riesgo en la ciencia y en la cultura (Studies on Risk in Science and Culture)

Funded by the Gobierno de Aragón (Department of Science, University and Research). From  2002   To 2004

Main Researcher: Gaspar Mairal

-      Research Project: Network for Research into the Construction of Environmental Risk (

Funded by the  European Science Foundation (ESF) From 2000  to  2001

Main Researcher:  Gaspar Mairal

-      Research ProjectInforme del Anteproyecto del Plan Hidrológico Nacional ( Report on the  Draft Bill of the Spanish National Hydrologic Plan)

Funded by the  Ministerio de Medio Ambiente (Spanish Government) 2000    Main Researcher: Gaspar Mairal

-      Research ProjectMicrosociología comparada del secano y del regadío en Los Monegros  (Compared  Microsociology of Dry and Irrigated lands in the Monegros Region in Spain)

Funded by the  Confederación Regional de Empresarios de Aragón (Association of Aragonese Business Men) From  1995   to 1996

Main Reseracher:  Gaspar Mairal

- Research Project: Estudio del impacto socio-cultural derivado de la regulación del río Esera (Plan Hidrológico) (A Study on the Social Impact of the River Ésera regulation (Hydrological Plan))

Funded by the Confederación Hidrográfica del Ebro (Ebro River Water Authority) From  1992    To 1993

Main Researcher: Gaspar Mairal



I have been teaching at the University of Zaragoza from 1982 covering a complete scale of positions until my current one as an associate professor. First Sociology and then Anthropology have been the two areas of my teaching in graduate, postgraduate and doctorate courses. I have supervised several Doctoral Thesis and some on them have been published afterwards. I have also taught courses on different subjects connected with Anthropology and Risk at the universities of Rovira i Virgili of Tarragona, Corunna, Pablo Olavide of Seville, Miguel Hernández of Elche, International Menéndez Pelayo, Pau (France), Arizona (USA) and Colegio San Luis (México).

I am now teaching Anthropology, Etnography, Historical Anthropology and Anthropology of Food at the Faculty of Human Sciences and Education at the University of Zaragoza in two graduate programmes, Humanities and Nutrition and Dietetics and a postgraduate programme, Advanced Studies on Humanities.

In the last two years I have been supervising the research work of several visiting researchers preparing doctorates on risk issues: a doctorate student from the University of Stavanger (Norway) working  on risk and security in airports and aerial transportation in 2010-11 academic year, a visiting researcher from Brazil who is currently working on the study of floods to manage risk in the poor suburbs of Curitiba (Brazil) and for the second semester of this academic year a doctorate student from  Mexico will be here to be supervised on her research on the  impact of aids in poor women in a Mexican city. Now I am supervising a certain number of thesis dissertations.



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