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!


A Bright Transitional Model to Democracy or a Story of Political Resigns and Subjugations

November 20, 2016 Comments Off on A Bright Transitional Model to Democracy or a Story of Political Resigns and Subjugations

This weekend the Spanish Transition to democracy was in the media agenda again because revealed  images by La Sexta Columna on an interview to Adolfo Suárez in 1995. In the document the former President admits that, after the dictatorship, the Spanish Government discarded a referendum to ask the Spaniards whether they preferred a monarchy or a republic. Suárez commented they had polls pointing that the monarchy option would have lost. Thus, they opted to include the Monarchy and the King as Head of the State as something already given. Of course, the status quo was implicitly accepted when the current Constitution in 1978.

These new revelations are fostering the discussion about what did la Transición really mean in the recent history of the country. The ‘official’ and hegemonic narrative of the period is about a bright model from dictatorship to democracy. This story was clearly present in mainstream media. But it is also true that there are many alternative stories about the period and not all media accounts offered such a brilliant account.

Among these other stories, Basque and Catalan media did elaborate a much more complex narrative in which we also find political resigns and subjugations. One of the crucial episodes of la Transición was the ‘failed’ coup d’état in 1981, because it was explained as the moment when the country would never go back to the ‘black Spain’. I  recently wrote a paper for the CICOM Congress 2015 about some of the documentaries that explained 23-F in the Basque and Catalan television and how they elaborated a different story on the event. These narratives must be read interwoven with other media accounts on that historical period, like the now published.

Following, the abstract and a link to the file:

A Fragmented Democratic Transition. Alternative Narratives on 23-F in Basque and Catalan TV Documentaries

Enric Castelló, Universitat Rovira i Virgili

 Abstract: The coup d’état of 23 February, 1981, remains in the memory of Spaniards as one of the epic episodes of democracy. This article analyses how the Basque public television (ETB) and Catalan Television (TVC) contributed to the account of 23-F. By analysing major reports produced and broadcast by both public corporations at different moments, the author notes a disagreement with the hegemonic discourse that lies in the national conflict and the political interpretation of the democratic transition in Spain. The leading Spanish story spoke of the coup as an “attempt” or a “failure” and of the Transition as a “success”, a political model that other transitions to democracy could do well to copy; the contested narratives in these documentaries spoke of an unfinished model based on denials and limitations in which 23-F is a climax and a turning point after which Spain developed a democracy at the cost of political sacrifices.

 Keywords: 23-F coup d’état; democratic transition; hegemonic narrative; historical memory; television documentary

Suggested citation

Castelló, Enric (2016) “A Fragmented Democratic Transition. Alternative Narratives on 23-F in Basque and Catalan TV Documentaries”. Actas del Congreso CICOM 2015 sobre Televisiones Autonómicas. Pamplona. Spain.

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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.

A great issue (5.1!) is coming

April 11, 2013 § 3 Comments

We are about to see the next issue of the Catalan Journal of Communication and Cultural Studies. It will start the fifth volume and is containing eight articles and eight book reviews.

This issue is counting with a research on the news report during the Catalan elections in 2010. Nereida Carrillo (Universitat Rovira i Virgili) and Carme Ferré-Pavia (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) are opening with a research work on how news combined entertainment elements and presented a hybridization of genres. Political actors and language uses of media are inquired in order to develop a debate on infotainment and electoral communication.

This article is followed by Elena Oroz (Universitat Rovira i Virgili) studies on early Francoist propaganda documentaries. Oroz offer an insightful text on the documentaries produced by the Sección Femenina at the end of the Civil War (1939) and during the early Francoism (1944). The comparative analysis reveals the changes that occurred in the discourses and images offered about feminity and the role of the women in the Movimiento.

Next work is the one signed by Núria Araüna, Iolanda Tortajada and Arantxa Capdevila (Universitat Rovira i Virgili) about the analysis of the Spanish fiction serial Sin tetas no hay paraíso (STNP). The researchers studied the affective and sexual relationship in the series and realised several focus groups among youngsters to see how they identified with the story and the characters. The authors develop an argument to explain how characters cruelty is not incompatible with the sense of “cool”.

The issue follows with the article of Brian Smith (Purdue University) on the public relation profession in Spain and the adaptation of Grunnig paradigm on excellence. The author extracts some interesting results from a set of interviews with public relation managers about the influence of USA sector on the Spanish professional practices.

The Articles’ section is closed with two added texts. The first is the one of Dimitri Prandner (University of Salzburg) about the presence of young female journalists in Austria and the difference in their role and work conditions regarding their male colleagues. The second is a suggesting text from Isabel Simões about the media coverage of the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. The author analyses the dual process of mediation: the staging of the ceremony and the discursive representations.

Altheide’s thoughts

We are proud to have in this issue the presence of David Altheide‘s (Arizona State University) article ‘Shielding Risk’. This text is an approach to risk communication, media and society, exploring concepts like media logic, politics of fear and surveillance society. The article, which we are sure will became a key text in the field, is included in the Gateway section, as it is extracted from the conference which Altheide gave in 2012 in the Universitat Rovira i Virgili during the 3rd Congress of the Spanish Association of Communication Research. In a feedback with the author he stated: “This paper was written a year before the massacre at Newtown, Ct., but the public debates about gun control are good examples of the efforts to shield risk”.

The issue is completed with a Viewpoint research note from Alexander Dhoest and Sara Bastianesens (University of Antwerp) about how Belgian press reports on Catalonia. They did an interesting content analysis on topics and a discourse approach to the coverage of Catalonia in a country, Belgium, which is also crossing in-dept political struggles involving identity issues.

Finally, this issue is enriched with a set of eight book review in which several authors offer their commentary on new titles on media theory, race representation, journalism, political communication and transnational fictions. Among the authors: Joaquim M. Puyal, Guillermo Orozco and Maria Immacolata Vassalo or Manuel Palacio.

All in all, I see with satisfaction the issue which will be the first stone of a volume that we will complete with a special issue on food and communication, which is already in reviewing.

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