Catalonia in Post-Franco Spain: Autonomy, Identity and Language-Based Nationalism.
Hartman, Alexander Y.
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Catalan nationalism has achieved a renewed vigor in the democratic era of post-Franco Spain. Nationalists have revived the history of self-rule, economic success and cultural vitality of Catalonia in the XIIIth and XIVth centuries to legitimate the Catalan claim to a distinct nation. Although the creation of an autonomous system of government in 1978 was expected to reduce nationalist demands, the Catalan government continues to advocate greater autonomy from Spain, in order to control its own social programs and financial system and, above all, to protect and promote the Catalan language. The decision to center the Catalan nationalist struggle around the ?core value? of language has directly contributed to the peaceful character of Catalan nationalism. Since language is an acquired characteristic, as opposed to such predetermined criteria as race, Catalan nationalism is inclusive and allows anyone who chooses to become a habitual speaker of Catalan to adopt the Catalan identity. This prevents the alienation of Castilian speakers within Catalonia and contributes to the popularity of the Catalan nationalist movement. Due to the broad base of support for increased devolution of power to the Catalan government, and the willingness of the Spanish state to meet the demands of the historic nationalities, Spain appears to be developing a federalist system. Ironically, this could further invigorate Catalan nationalism instead of pacifying it, since the Spanish government has lost much of its legitimacy to the more visible and popular Catalan government. As part of International Relations Theory, this case study investigates the importance of ethnic symbols, collective memories and created historical myths in the development of nationalist movements. Language, especially when disseminated through print-capitalism, constitutes a potent source of national identification. In the case of Catalonia, language has united the ethnic community, conferred an aura of antiquity on the nation and distinguished the Self from the Other, thereby strengthening the nationalist movement.