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Level 5

5AASB070 Nationalism in Spain

Credit value: 15 credits
Module tutor: Dr Nagore Calvo
Assessment: 2000 word tutorial essay (50%); 2 hour exam (50%)
Teaching pattern: 2 x one hour weekly classes

Reassessment: all re-assessment for this module will take the form of coursework.  The exam element will be replaced with a 3000 word essay.

This module is taught in English, using English-language translations for students with  no prior knowledge of Spanish/Portuguese.

Module description

The history of Catalonia and the Basque country is integral to understanding the heterogeneity and diversity of Spain today. In the nineteenth century, these regions were the first to industrialize, becoming the wealthiest and most densely populated areas of the Peninsula, and developing a social structure that appeared more akin to places north of the Pyrenees than to the rest of Iberia. Urban and agrarian popular classes frequently participated in movements of revolution and reaction, while its industrial and financial bourgeoisie enjoyed superior economic relations with Latin America and Europe. Alongside events transpiring in the state capital of Madrid, collective action taking place in Catalonia and the Basque country was often the motor force behind major political change. In the twentieth century, these regions were principal centres of working-class organizations and home to regionalist political movements. The Catalan and Basque governments supported the Second Republic during the Spanish Civil War, and both regions have received political autonomy in accordance with the Constitution of 1978. Today, multiple constitutional issues concerning Catalan and Basque nationalism remain at the forefront of Spanish political debate. This course will remedy traditional approaches to Spain that have focussed exaggerated attention on political activity in Madrid and the intellectual culture of the Castilian-speaking north, centre and south.

Key concepts

The course has a theoretical section and an empirical one. The first section (weeks 1-5) will begin by studying the different schools of nationalism (modernism, primordialism, ethno-symbolism) and will identify the major debates within that field. We will read the classic works of scholars such as Benedict Anderson, Ernest Gellner, Adrian Hastings, Eric Hobsbawm or Anthony D. Smith and will analyse how nationalism interacts with other sociological processes (e.g., modernity, war, language, religion, institutional reform or globalisation). The second section (weeks 6-11) will start by describing the failure of the Spanish liberal project in the nineteenth-century to then analyse the emergence and development of Basque and Catalan nationalisms at the end of the nineteenth-century. We will also study the interaction between Spanish and peripheral nationalism during the twentieth century and will address issues in contemporary politics such as the problem of ETA’s terrorism and the place of the autonomies in the new Europe of the Regions. 

Educational aims and objectives

  1. To critically examine nation and state building processes in modern Spain
  2. To understand and explain key concepts (e.g. nation, nationalism, nation state)
  3. To demonstrate skills in summarising, debating and assessing different theoretical approaches to the study of nationalism
  4. To explore the development and evolution of different nationalism(s) in 20th century Spain
  5. To analyse contemporary debates on nationalism in Spain 

Learning outcomes

The objective of the module is to enable students to read and interpret literature on nationalism, and to draw on this knowledge in order to be able to assess, analyse and interpret processes of nation building in Spain. 

Core texts

  • Anderson, Benedict (1991) Imagined Communities. London: Verso
  • Mar-Molinero, C. and Smith, A. (1996), Nationalism and the nation in the Iberian peninsula, Berg.
  • Diez Medrano, J. (1995). Divided Nations: Class, Politics, and Nationalism in the Basque Country and Catalonia. New York, Cornell University Press.
  • Ozkirimili, Umut (2000) Theories of Nationalism. London: MacMillan Press, accessible book to theories of nationalism.
  • McCrone, D. (1998) Sociology of Nationalism. London: Routledge.
  • Whitfield, T. (2014). Endgame for ETA: elusive peace in the Basque Country. Oxford University Press.

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.


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