A renewed narrative for Valencia

May 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

If there is a stroking story on the crisis within the Spanish context this is the Valencian. The other times rich community, a symbol of prosperity and liberal attitude, is today the region mostly related to economic crash, corruption and citizenship disenchantment. The book, Valencia, la tormenta perfecta, written by Josep Vicent Boira, is a comprehensive explanation of what has happened in the Valencian Country during the last years. Boira goes back to the thirties (S. XX) to explain how and why he region economy has fallen, but also why the political context is today so devaluated. I have read many essays on Valencia during the last days and I have to confess that this one is a relevant contribution, not closed to the habitual and tiring debate on ideology and identity. Boira has written, in my opinion, the best essay on the Valencian society of the last years and, I think that this text will be present during this decade, and specially meanwhile the crisis keeps alive.

Several passages of the book are to be noted related to my own interest. Boira is a geographer and gives a major importance to territory/territorialization, data on population and economy, etc. But in some parts of the book symbolic aspects and media are mentioned. As for example, in page 82 he writes: “To create Radio Televisió Valenciana and the public TV Canal 9 was not enough. It deserved to be filled of content”. This idea is so close to the one I elaborated in a recent article in a book on centers and peripheries: it is not enough the disposal of the structure, this structure must be filled with symbolical apparatus, a discourse… In other part of the book (p. 106), Boira also says that Valencian newspapers are not influential in the Spanish context (not like Catalan La Vanguardia for example) and later (p.125) refers to the dominance of the public TV by the Popular Party (sadly, most regional media in Spain have become a (deficitarian) tool for local governments, more than a space of free speech or regional development).

A renewed narrative

Finally, I want to note what perhaps is in my opinion one of the singular points of the book, but which is not appropriately developed. Boira defends that the Valencian country is needing a new narrative (p. 84). This idea of a “new narrative” is quickly mentioned in other parts of the book, but the author does not develop the idea. Even in the conclusions, this crucial aspect is just neglected. I understand that Boira is not perhaps the academic to go further in this matter and here there is a space for communication scholars, humanists (professional in the arts sector) and sociologists, together, to find new narratives for Valencia. My impression is that they are as important as the other measures smartly proposed in the conclusions. And is not a banal aspect, which new narrative for Valencia? The question would perhaps deserve an article series or even a book.

To end, just to mention the link between Boira and Enric Juliana. The former quotes the latter at the end of the book, and specifically the idea of “Modest Spain”, shortly commented in an earlier post.  Just anecdotical,  to note that Boira takes in account the work from my brother Rafael Castelló, quoted in the text (p. 85, 201) but awfuly neglected in the reference list.

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Modesta España: nice reading

May 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

These days I have read ‘Modesta España. Paisaje después de la austeridad’ (Modest Spain. Landscape after austerity). In this book the journalist Enric Juliana offers a great picture of contemporary Spanish politics. The book tries to approach to the extremely complicated Iberian relationships and depicts the historical rooted tensions between centre and periphery. Juliana uses the metaphor of the “cavallero del verde gabán (green coat knight), a character of the Quixote, to refer to the lack of modesty of the Spanish attitudes. The thesis of the book is really suggestive and takes an old political map (illustrating the cover) to understand the structural (economic and political) composition of current Iberia. A must reading for those who want to understand political conflict in Spain.

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