The fragmented Transition: postmemory and TV

November 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

DSC_0305This week I was presenting a paper at the International Congress of Communication in Pamplona. Organized by the University of Navarra, this was the 30th edition of the meeting, and it was devoted to the regional public channels in Spain. I was presenting a paper entitled ‘La transición fragmentada. Contrahegemonías vasca y catalana en los relatos televisivos del 23F’ / The fragmented Transition. Basque and Catalan counter-hegemonies on 23F TV stories’. I have been researching on the TV documentaries of the regional Catalan and Basque public TV since the eighties.

This is from the abstract:

“In particular, the counter-narrative of these televisions questioned the consideration that the coup was an attempt completely failed, and suggested political gains in the territorial reconfiguration of Spain, as well as the demarcation of red lines in the political debate. From the analysis and in-depth reading of six major documentaries on both channels, the author distinguishes the differences between the Basque and Catalan narrative. The text argues that the explanation of the dissent in the Basque Country and Catalonia is in relation of the national conflict: so for the dominant story the Transition was a success and a model to follow, meanwhile for the counter-hegemonic discourse it was an unfinished process with renounces and limitation for democracy”.

It was quite a lateral communication in a congress mainly focused on the political economy of television, regulation and new technology platforms. Despite this, the whole experience was very interesting and I was able to deliver a contribution in the framework of the research project on post-memory in which I am collaborating.


Framing the Scottish Referendum, one year after

September 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

One year after I was at the University of Stirling to participate in a seminar about ‘Television framing of the Scottish Referendum’. Jointly with Marta Montagut, we presented a paper on how Catalan media (newspapers and television) covered the consultation. It was a very interesting meeting, with very well selected contributions that turned into a vivid discussion among around fifty assistants. The conference was excellently organized by Marina Dekavalla, one of the scholars working on this issue for years and with a wide knowledge on the topic. Claes de Vreese, one of the best experts on framing, opened the sessions with a very comprehensive explanation about how frames work in constructing political meanings through communication processes.IMG_20150918_093918

There were journalists, BBC staff and scholars from five or six British universities. Of course, most of the discussing focus was on the BBC coverage of the Referendum, and on the impartiality or the supposed bias during the campaign. But the audience was really interested in the Catalan process and about how Scottish politics does influence in the day-to-day political debate in Catalonia. All eyes put on next 27S, my overall impression was that Scottish academics and journalists do expect to see a democratic solution for the Catalan political conflict.

Following, an abstract on the contribution, which was very much appreciated by the audience.

Framing the Scottish Referendum, Seminar 18 September 2015, University of Stirling, Scotland.

The referendum and the Scottish constitutional issue in Catalan media. Representations, Metaphors and Frames

Enric Castelló and Marta Montagut
Universitat Rovira i Virgili

The Catalan media displayed a huge coverage of the Scottish referendum, with special programs, correspondents and analysts, who reported the complexity of the country and offered a myriad of representations of the Scottish and British politics. The day before the celebration of the Scottish referendum, the Spanish president Mariano Rajoy considered in the Congress that such processes were “torpedoes in the waterline of the European spirit,” while after the result, the Catalan President Artur Mas interpreted the process as a true “lesson of democracy” and the “only way to solve conflicts.” The reports and opinions established a set of frames, loaded with metaphors and representations of the country. The most common to explain the British constitutional conflict and the referendum were “the path”, “the marriage”, “the lesson”, “the battle” and “the “party”. Overall, the Catalan media represented David Cameron as a true democrat, despite risky and tactical; a leader that allowed what the Spanish state does not for Catalonia. Alex Salmond appeared as a smart and populist leader, who had led his country to vote. Following the results, the Catalan media also interpreted the victory of the “No” as a victory for democracy.
Ara, La Vanguardia newspapers and public television TVC offered news pieces on the country’s history and its relationship with England. The performances of Scottish stereotypes (the tartanry) were rather limited; although they had some presence reports and analyses tried not to fall into a box of topics. The interpretative frames were drawn considering to which extend Scottish and Catalan realities could be or not a mirror. For the Spanish unionist discourse, “Scotland is not Catalonia”, while Catalan independence argument point was that “Spain is not the UK”. The discourse on both sides tended therefore to present a narrative of the disparity.
In this contribution, the authors offer an analysis of representations, metaphors and dominant frames in the Catalan media during week of the referendum. After conducting a close reading of reports in the main dailies and public television and two of the most important Catalan daily, the authors conclude that journalism built a story about how to tackle the conflict between the Spanish state and the Catalan claim for a referendum, criticising the impossibility to reply this democratic event in the home country.

Note: This contribution is part of the project “The role of metaphor in the definition and social perception of conflict. Institutions, media and citizens” (CSO2013-41661-P), with the support by the Spanish Department of Economic Affairs and Competitiveness.

Interesting seminar with LUNN colleagues

June 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

IMG_20150603_214030 (1) Yesterday I participated in a seminar at Loughborough University, invited to talk about consumer nationalism by the Loughborough University Nationalism Network. Jointly with my colleague Sabina Mihelj, we had the chance to exchange our first thoughts about a short project I am developing here during summer. Our presentation was entitled Promoting and Consuming the Nation: Nations in the World of Global Capitalism, and we tried to map a set of consumer practices attached to national discourses and identities. Following, the abstract of our presentation.

Promoting and Consuming the Nation: Nations in the World of Global Capitalism

Sabina Mihelj (Loughborough University) & Enric Castelló (Universitat Rovira i Virgili)

Far from becoming historically obsolete, nations and nationalisms have seen a revival in recent years. From the growing influence of populist parties across Europe to the public rallies across France in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, nations have regained prominence as central symbols of political unity and mobilization, and proved capable of serving political goals across the political spectrum. Yet, as we argue in this paper, 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 paper seeks to map the interface between nationalism and economic life, and bring some clarity to the so far largely fragmented debate on the topic, which developed under diverse headings such as ‘nation branding’, ‘consumer nationalism’, ‘commercial nationalism’ and ‘public diplomacy’. We also ask what the anchoring of the national in the logic of capitalism means for the ability of the nation to serve as the basis for political mobilization.

A great academic happening to talk about frames and metaphors

April 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

Yesterday I was organizing a half-day seminar entitled ‘Media framing and metaphor use in conflict: politics, science, sports’. It was a very interesting academic event to which around 25 students, postgrad and doctoral candidates, attended. I had the pleasure to know two colleagues working on close issues who are Marina Dekavalla (University of Stirling) and Pieter Maeseele (University of Antwerp).

Marina focused on how Scottish media covered the Scottish referendum last year. She explained about her project on this issue and I am sure that the results are going to be very a accurate account about the media role in this political process. By his side, Pieter offered a very insightful speech on how the media in Flanders has been covering genetic modify issues during the last years; he illustrated us with a critical viewpoint on scientific communications and the role of stakeholders and citizens. Finally, my colleague Bernat López contributed with a engaging and also surprising speech on how the media have used a set of metaphors to refer to the doping issue linked to professional cycling.

All, students and teachers, enjoyed the approach of every speaker. Among the public, we got colleagues coming from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona and Universitat de València, what was really encouraging. I had the very useful help from some colleagues at the Department, who reported on the issue. See more there: All in all, a great occasion. Thanks to all for attending, contributing and your help.


Concluding a project

April 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am almost concluding the project “The media construction of political and territorial conflict in Spain. Studying discourse and narratives”, which I have been developing during the last three years. The website of the project contains a complete account of the results and main events we have organized. To end this, and in order to offer wider results among students, I organized a seminar last month with the participation of Professor Hugh O’Donnell. The seminar was a success in terms of student participation and we could offer a resume of the project to a wider audience. The communication office of the university published a note on the event (in Spanish), and a video ( in Catalan).

Anglo-Catalan Society Conference: An excellent experience

November 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

The 59th Annual Anglo-Catalan Society Conference was held in the University of Manchester (1st– 3rd November). The programme was plenty of interesting activities and sessions to which I could assist, as I was invited to participate in a round table on cinema and television in contemporary Catalonia. I had also the chance to meet new colleagues working in very close fields to my own interests.

Friday 1st I could listen Kathryn Cramery (University of Glasgow), presenting a paper on “National Heroes in the Novels of 1714”. She compared several works, including Albert Bosch 1714 and Sánchez-Piñol Victus, and how historical characters are performed in the fiction. In the afternoon I was listening Anna Vives (University of Leicester), who delivered a speech on poetry exposition in the ‘mitgeres’ of Barcelona (lateral building walls exposed to passers by). She focused in the works of Papasseit (Formigues) and Brossa (A – Z) to offer a relevant reflection on urban space and poetry.

Later, I was glad to be in the speech by Marina Massagué (University of Oxford), who I already knew as she was teaching at Universitat Rovira i Virgili, as well as working in Tarragona. She is doing a discursive approach to the on-line information about Catalan language courses to foreigners in Barcelona. It was relevant to see that there are few well-communicated experiences in this type of learning services.

Saturday 2nd was the time for the Joan Gili Lecture, delivered by Isona Passola (Acadèmia del Cinema Català) to which all delegates assisted. The room was almost full and Passola offered an insightful approach to cinema since the democratic transition to current times. She also introduced the consequences for the cinema sector of the current process towards a self-determination referendum. Delegates were very active introducing questions and relevant comments on the speech.

In the afternoon, we all could transfer to Cornerwall Cinema in the city center, where Pau Subirós presented the film “La Plaga”, which has been recently nominated to LUX Award 2013 for documentary cinema. The film is a well-worked piece about stories of human overcome in hard times. The following discussions rose topics on the nature of the documentary, which indeed mixes fictional and non-fictional features.

Finally, I was participating in a roundtable with Kathryn Crameri, Jaume Martí-Olivella and Pau Subirós on cinema, television and identity, in which I had the chance to introduce a reflexion on the role of public television in promoting social cohesion and Catalan culture. The moment was also a chance to introduce the Catalan Journal of Communication and Cultural Studies to an audience of young scholars researching on literature, popular culture and cinema and focused on Catalan productions.

Ibercom, almost ten years after

May 30, 2013 § 1 Comment

I remember to assist in 2004 to Ibercom, the congress which bring together scholars on communication studies from Spain, Portugal and Latinamerica. Then it was in Covilha (Portugal) and was the best organized conference I assisted since this moment in the Iberian Peninsula. Today, I am in Santiago de Compostela, almost ten years after, participating in the same conference.

Foto0047It is being a rather successful event in quantitative terms and organization. There are a lot of scholars coming from Spain and specially Portugal. Some of the presentations are being of quality although I have assisted to plenary sessions and I note the incapacity of Iberian scholars to go forward the already existing topics and debates years ago. Now the economic crisis and the special impact in Portugal and Spain media and communication systems is in the agenda of the discussions, but it is rather discouraging to see that the considered ‘top scholars’ in the field are so rooted in old debates and premisses.

Younger researchers and participants are bringing few fresh air to the research and issues. One of the lack of this kind of events is the few real research presented in the sessions; some sessions sink to critical but unproductive debates, most interesting in terms of ideas exposed but generally very poor in terms of progression of the field and innovation of perspectives, etc. Other of the improvable points of the congresses like this is the almost nonexistent participation of some of the first-line and senior scholars in the field, and specially those who are offering some international impact in their production. Are they not interested in spreading their results in this kind of events?

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