Overcoming a challenge: a companion to Iberian Studies

April 12, 2017 Comments Off on Overcoming a challenge: a companion to Iberian Studies

C8rX0FzXkAAJIc0It takes a time to collect and edit a volume like The Routledge Companion to Iberian Studies recently published and now available. Like other compilations which aim is to offer a broad landscape on the late advances on a single field or academic issue, this is a monumental book to which I have had the honour to contribute to with an article on TV documentaries on the Spanish Civil War and the mediatization of collective memory.

The companion offers fifty articles on history, politics, cultural studies, literature and visual arts that include cultural production from medieval ages to the twentieth century. Approaches to this diverse list of objects of study are also rich and imply a true panoptic view on Hispanism and Iberian Studies. The companion also brings together a good mixture of well-known and senior scholars along with younger or less visible researchers (like I consider myself, at least for the second label), which is also a pleasure in a field that sometimes tends to be somehow repetitive on topics and authors.

A final remark in order to list my positive reaction to the list of contents, is that the collection introduces quite a plural view on the cultural diversity of the Peninsula. Along with the well-known literature and cultural productions in Castilian, we also find approaches to Portuguese, Basque or Catalan works and authors. All in all, this was a true challenge for the editors, Javier Muñoz-Basols, Laura Lonsdale and Manuel Delgado, that has been brilliantly overcome and means an stake in the Iberian Studies within the Area Studies field. This volume should catch the attention of specialized scholars and journals. Now is time to carefully read it. This will also take a time!

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An age of consumer nationalism?

February 4, 2017 Comments Off on An age of consumer nationalism?

hamburguesaWalls planned by ‘America First’ President of the United States; the Brexit progression to ‘Make Britain Great Again’; a growing cross-European populism trying to keep the national-order-of-things; multinational states under reinforced claims for self-determination; increasing tension around the Russian borders to recover a global influence; serious dispute for tiny islands’ between China and Japan… There is no doubt that we are facing a new wave of conflicts fueled by nationalists motivations.

Like in other moments of history, this nationalism has economic consequences. But today, nationalism is not merely expressed in the already known ‘economic nationalism’ attached to old practices like taxing foreign products or protecting the national labour market, and so on. National tensions have also consequences on a wide range of comercial and consumer daily basis practices. Therefore, there are very different, sophisticated or sometimes banalized, forms of what we know as consumer nationalism: a wide range of consumer practices and discourses attached to motivations grounded on nationalism. Are we perhaps living in an age of consumer nationalism?

Jointly with Sabina Mihelj, we have published an article in which we try to better define this phenomenon and to distinguish different types of consumer nationalism. The article has been published by the Journal of Consumer Culture:

Enric Castelló & Sabina Mihelj

In recent years, nations have regained prominence as central symbols of political unity and mobilization, and proved capable of serving political goals across the political spectrum. Yet, the current revival of the national extends well beyond the realm of politics; it is anchored in the logic of global capitalism, and has become inextricably intertwined with the practices of promotion and consumption. Our article seeks to map the interface between nationalism and economic life, and bring some clarity to the so far fragmented debate on the topic, which developed under diverse headings such as ‘economic nationalism’, ‘nation branding’, ‘consumer ethnocentrism’ and ‘commercial nationalism’. We focus more closely on developing the concept of consumer nationalism, which received little sustained attention in cultural studies and in social sciences and humanities more generally. We offer a definition of consumer nationalism, situate it vis-a-vis the broader phenomena of economic nationalism and political consumerism, and propose an analytical distinction between political consumer nationalism and symbolic consumer nationalism. Drawing on existing literature we then consider a range of examples and examine how these two forms of consumer nationalism become involved in the reproduction of nationalism, taking into account both consciously nationalist discourses and practices as well as the more banal, everyday forms of nationalism.

How is TV reporting the Catalan demonstrations in Spain?

July 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

Capture_TVNext 11th September 2015 we will live a new massive demonstration in Catalonia, but this time the political claim will be followed by elections (27th September) that will provably lead to the unilateral declaration of independence from Spain. This week, moderate Catalan right and left parties reached the agreement for this joint-venture now called Junts pel sí (Together for yes). The impression is that there is no way back, after the long story of conflict and failed negotiations on the issue by both parts.

This is a process leaded by non-governmental organizations and civil society associations, which have organized huge political acts during the last five years and are claiming for a referendum, as Scottish did last year. The end of this hot summer in Catalonia will be as convulse as interesting from a political point of view, and there will be media and television channels reporting for major networks. The Catalan right for a referendum is a true challenge to test the European Union state of democracy.

One of the relevant aspects I have research on during the last two years is the great divergences among television narratives and discourses in the Spanish channels when explaining this political process. I do defend that we assisted to a truly depoliticization of the TV coverage through several mechanism like minimizing the agency of citizenship, focusing on political strategies, or just reporting on anecdotes of the demonstration. Today, Television & New Media had published some in this research line focused on the huge march of September 2012.

Masking Political Engagement: Television Coverage of a Mass Demonstration in Barcelona

Enric Castelló, Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Abstract: This article analyzes how statewide and regional public television in Spain handled the demonstration held on September 11, 2012 (the National Day of Catalonia), in Barcelona under the slogan “Catalonia, a New European State.” The author performed a content analysis of fifty-eight news programs and a narrative analysis of eighty-nine stories. The results indicate that the majority of the channels offered limited coverage of the demonstration. The television narratives also minimized the role of citizen agency in the achievement of goals through democratic participation and displayed a depoliticized account. The author argues that the coverage of the march and its consequences resulted in a masking of citizens’ political engagement; far from promoting an understanding of why the march was so massively supported, it instead presented a story on politicians’ strategy. The author relates this case to a wider trend of media coverage of citizens’ protests in a Western, post-democratic context.

Keywords: democracy, demonstrations coverage, mediatization, political conflict, public television, television news

Read more: Television & New Media, 16(6):521-537

An age of massive protests

January 31, 2015 § Leave a comment

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“We decide”, a claim in Barcelona streets.

We live in an age of massive protests. The Arab springs (2010), the concentrations of the ‘indignados’ in Spain (2011), occupy movements (2011), Catalan rallies (2010-2014), Euromaidan protests in Ukraine (2013), or the demonstration against terrorism in Paris (2015). All of them are of very different nature, but gathering crowds of people in the streets claiming for a social or political change. Some of these protests scaled to violent episodes, meanwhile others were just a political or social claim peacefully expressed by the citizenship. Social and political science scholars, and also communication analysts, are working to better understand how public discourse and media are ordering the meanings of these massive protests: how are they framed in the newspapers, which images are having an impact in the public opinion, why some aspects of the protests are highlighted meanwhile others are just banalized or taken for grant, which meaning is attached to thousands of people in the street fostering a social or political change? Language use is never innocuous or meaningless, and metaphor analysis can offer a good tool to understand how media and journalists attach specific meanings to the demonstrations. Jointly with my colleague Arantxa Capdevila, we have worked on how 2012 protests in Catalonia were covered by major newspapers in the country. The research is bridging the previous project on political conflict with a new one we have started to analyze metaphor use in conflicting issues, not just in politics but also in science and sports. Among our conclusions we found that a major metaphor is explaining the demonstration in the realms of nature: “The people is a current of water”. This metaphor use is displaying in different scenarios where the people acquires a very different level of agency as actant in a story of political change. But meanwhile some stories treat the people as a potentially dangerous power, other narratives explain the event considering the participants as a potential useful power to social and political change. As we state in the conclusions, Madrid and Barcelona-based newspapers offer a very different account of the demonstration:

The Spanish papers minimized the agency of the people and cited them as problems for national interests; the Catalan papers showed the demonstrators as expressing the desires of the entire nation. The micronarratives in these texts represented the people as a danger to the establishment (the state) or as a powerful force to change the establishment and establish a new one.

Read more on this at Castelló, E & Capdevila, A (2015) Of War and Water: Metaphors and Citizenship Agency in the Newspapers Reporting the 9/11 Catalan Protest in 2012, International Journal of Communication, 9: 612-629.

Forthcoming article in TVNM

July 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am willing to see my next article in Television & New Media on the public channel (regional and statewide) coverage of the massive demonstration in Barcelona in September 11, 2012 (claiming for the self-determination). The article offers a mixed (quantitative & qualitative) textual approach to the issue and reveals how citizen’s political engagement was minimized by most of the channels. In the text, I discuss how the processes of mediation and mediatization of the event resulted in a narrative that displaced the political, meanwhile offering a frame close to what scholars have identified as ‘strategic’, focusing on politicians statements (with a relevance of official/governmental sources) and secondary aspects around the march. As stated in the text, this also tended to offer a ‘depoliticized’ account of the demonstration:

The result of this type of depoliticization is that “the political” is reserved as a sphere for politicians, while organized citizens are excluded from the political logics. This is part of a wider professional phenomenon in Western societies, where almost everything is susceptible to being explained in economic and financial terms.

… from the concluding remarks.

***

Masking Political Engagement: Television Coverage of a Mass Demonstration in Barcelona

Enric Castelló, Universitat Rovira i Virgili

This article analyzes how statewide and regional public television in Spain handled the demonstration held on September 11, 2012 (the National Day of Catalonia), in Barcelona under the slogan “Catalonia, a New European State.” The author performed a content analysis of fifty-eight news programs and a narrative analysis of eighty-nine stories. The results indicate that the majority of the channels offered limited coverage of the demonstration. The television narratives also minimized the role of citizen agency in the achievement of goals through democratic participation and displayed a depoliticized account. The author argues that the coverage of the march and its consequences resulted in a masking of citizens’ political engagement; far from promoting an understanding of why the march was so massively supported, it instead presented a story on politicians’ strategy. The author relates this case with a wider trend of media coverage of citizens’ protests in a Western post-democratic context.

Keywords

democracy, demonstrations coverage, mediatization, political conflict, public television, television news

Television & New Media, DOI: 10.1177/1527476414545890

Spanish Civil War on the screen: a study

January 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

It has been nice to participate in the book La Guerra Civil televisada. La representación de la contienda en la ficción y el documental españoles, edited by Sira Hernández. It is a compilation of seven chapters on different approaches on how the Spanish Civil War has been narrated through television in Spain.

Sira Hernández offers an insightful study on how TVE (Spanish public television) has reported on the war through documentaries during the last years of the dictatorship and the transition to democracy. The representation of the war was, in her words, “to the service of the legitimation of the respective political systems in Spain in each historical period” (p. 50). The last tense of this text is highly illustrative: “The war was remembered to definitively overcome it and embracing the new brand democracy with hope”.

Also very relevant is the chapter from José Carlos Rueda Laffond and Elena Galán, about how TV fiction has represented the war during the last ten years (2001-2012). The authors offer a rather exhaustive relation of the historical programmes in public and private channels, along with some reflexions on series like Cuéntame cómo pasó, or Amar en tiempos revueltos. Finally, one of my favorite texts is the one from Francisca López on the fictional production of TVE during the 80’s, and more specifically studying the productions La plaza del diamante, Lorca, la muerte de un poeta.

More: have a look to the content and the introduction.

Memory in conflict

July 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

The field of the mediatisation of memory is of great interest and impact in contemporary configurations of popular history.  In recent times, I have been researching on how Spanish Civil War has been accounted in several documentaries produced by the Catalan public television TVC. In brief, an article on this will appear in a book on the televisualization of the war in the Spanish context, edited by Sira Hernández (Universidad de Navarra). My vision is that the Catalan TV produced a set of documentaries in the 2000’s that raised a set of topics silenced since that moment. Some of these serious facts were the stolen children of Francoism or the desaparecidos during the war/post-war in Spain. Far from presenting a Manichean story, and consistently grounded in journalistic and historical research, some of the TVC documentaries –worthy to mention those by Montse Armengou and Ricard Belis– are an unquestionable heritage of contemporary journalism in Europe. During the next months I will go on investigating in this matter, under the umbrella of the research project I am leading, as the memory has been a great battlefield for the political conflict in Spain during the last decades.

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