May 19, 2012 § 1 Comment
These days I have read ‘Modesta España. Paisaje después de la austeridad’ (Modest Spain. Landscape after austerity). In this book the journalist Enric Juliana offers a great picture of contemporary Spanish politics. The book tries to approach to the extremely complicated Iberian relationships and depicts the historical rooted tensions between centre and periphery. Juliana uses the metaphor of the “cavallero del verde gabán (green coat knight), a character of the Quixote, to refer to the lack of modesty of the Spanish attitudes. The thesis of the book is really suggestive and takes an old political map (illustrating the cover) to understand the structural (economic and political) composition of current Iberia. A must reading for those who want to understand political conflict in Spain.
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.
June 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
I recently participated in the International Conference on Media and Culture in Small Nations Cyfrwng/Media Wales Conference 2011, held by the University of Glamorgan in Cardiff (UK). The conference was pretty interesting with delegates from a wide range of countries and touching very diverse topics related to the main focus of the conference. I was talking about researching and publishing in small countries context.
Media Studies in Catalonia: Researching, Publishing… Competing
This paper offers an evaluation of the development of communication and media studies in Catalonia in recent years, a period during which it has increased in terms of quantity, quality and competitiveness. During the nineties, as several authors have noted, there was clear growth in research in communication and media studies in Catalonia. Despite this, the impact of its output in international journals in the field can be described as scant or irrelevant. One meaningful indicator of this is the fact that between 1996 and 2002 Catalan scholars in the field published only six articles in the journals indexed in the Science Citation Index. During this period, only two universities in Catalonia offered courses and carried research in media and communication.
But media, communication and cultural studies have experienced significant growth in the country and the broader Catalan-speaking area (including Valencia and Balearic Islands) since then. Currently, seventeen universities in this area offer degrees in journalism, television, radio, film, advertising, public relations and cultural studies. This expansion has meant the creation of new departments and research centres and a huge increase in the number of scholars working in the field, especially young researchers.
In the last few years this growth, together with what has been labelled as “ANECA effect”, has also led to an increase in production in terms of published articles. But what is perhaps most important is the increasingly high standards demanded by the main Catalan journals in terms of quality. In 2008 none of the existing media and communication journals in Catalonia applied blind peer review, they were published almost exclusively in Catalan with a token presence of Spanish and the topics were closely related to local concerns and research issues. In 2009, several initiatives were undertaken to usher in a new stage, improving both the selection and quality of articles and including abstracts in English in several journals or publishing articles directly in this lingua franca. Some of them promoted the translation into English of their articles, others began a more serious reviewing process, a new journal in the field was born completely in English and published in United Kingdom and another journal was started in 2010 a new period with English translations of the abstracts.
The new promising outlook has fuelled competition among the universities and journals in terms of publishing the best quality Catalan communication research, but it is also facing new handicaps such as the imbalance balance between quantity and quality of articles, the downgrading of Catalan as a language for research and study, the problems involved in sustaining so much publication activity, the constant administrative pressures arising from the evaluation of researchers in quantitative terms, and the relative smallness of the existing research community.
 Jones, Daniel E. (2000) Informe Investigació sobre Comunicació a Catalunya els anys noranta. X Conferència de la Societat Catalana de Comunicació. Girona, [accés 17 de novembre de 2009: http://www.iecat.net/institucio/societats/SCComunicacio/activit/girona/Jonesinform.htm%5D; Berrio, Jordi (1997) (ed.) Un Segle de recerca sobre comunicació a Catalunya : estudi crític dels principals àmbits d’investigació de la comunicació de massa. Cerdanyola del Vallés: UAB. Servei de Publicacions.