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.

Access to pdf

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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.

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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