1981’s coup d’état in Spain: a cultural studies approach

September 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

It was in a turbulent Madrid. In 1981, democracy was trying to break the iced era of Fracoism dictatorship, but the rightists, Spanish nationalists and the army still had to say a last word. The 23rd February (23-F) was the date, during the voting for a new First Minister, Civil Guards commanded by Colonel Antonio Tejero crashed into the Spanish parliament armed and shouting “Todos al suelo, coño!”.

114_laeTVE cameras and a photographer (EFE) recorded this image, Spaniards turn on the radio that night (la noche de los transistores), and since that moment 23-F became a site of memory, a ‘meaningful place’ ready to be read and re-read for current and future generations. Coedited with Francisca López (Bates College), a new book compiles eleven articles on the 23-F impact on, broadly, Spanish popular culture. The book, Cartografías del 23-F. Representaciones en la prensa, la televisión, la novela, el cine y la cultura popular (Mapping 23F. Representations in media, fiction, cinema and popular culture), is the first monograph that takes a cultural studies approach to the issue.

23-F was explained and retold by the media each ephemeris; films used the moment as a context for drama and humour; writers located the fiction and essays around the matter (including the acclaimed Cerca’s Anatomía de un instante); and journalists, comedians or cartoonists returned to the image and the story of a failed coup d’état that marked the democratic transition and the memory of the Spanish people. The book tries to offer a comprehensible approach to the uses of the 23-F narratives and the discourses around that episode; not only interestingly for historians, media analysts or sociologists, but also to any reader aiming to understand current Spanish politics, society and culture. Added to the editors, experts on media and cultural analysis contribute to the volume: Manuel Palacio (Universidad Carlos III); Arantxa Capdevila (Universitat Rovira i Virgili); Hugh O’Donnell (Glasgow Caledonian University); José Carlos Rueda Laffond (Universidad Complutense de Madrid); Laia Quílez (Universitat Rovira i Virgili); Ruth Gutiérrez (Universidad de Navarra); Sira Hernández Corchete (Centro Universitario de la Defensa, Zaragoza), Concepción Cascajosa and Vicente Rodríguez (Universidad Carlos III).

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Reading: the death of Belgium

July 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

These days I am reading a book about Belgium, well it is indeed devoted to “the death of Belgium” (La mort de Bèlgica. La gradual emancipació de Flanders, author: Marc Gafarot). I am involved in a research and some of the news are dealing with how Flemish and Walloon newspapers treat the Catalan topics and vice versa. We are exploring this topic and still deciding whether we have an object of study well delimited… And I felt that I needed some more context about Flanders. Therefore, I am getting some from this book quite easily.

The work has a similar objective to the still recent El mirall escocés (The Scottish mirror), authored by Xavier Solano, which is to offer an up-to-date account of the nationalism achievements in both countries and to establish points of comparison with the Catalan case. Of course, both authors give historical, sociological and political clues to understand processes of separatism in Flanders and Scotland. In the Flemish case, one of the most striking aspects are the questions related to cultural policies, and specifically linguistic policies. Reading this book, my understanding is that some of the existing laws and norms regarding language protection, delimitation of cultural communities and regulation of cultural life are rather strong and this made me think about the Catalan case: Catalan nationalism policies are today more liberal than the practices in some other parts of Europe. Both works, Solano’s and Gafarot’s, are very didactic, but in both cases I missed some more room for the media and cultural analysis, which are crucial to understand current political and social realities in these (still) stateless nations.

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