Seeing events in Catalonia through the lens of Spanish twentieth-century history

The violent scenes which accompanied the referendum in Catalonia at the beginning of the month, and the general strike which followed, may have seemed surprising and shocking to us, but not so to those who are more familiar with the history of Spanish politics.

According to Dr Helena Miguélez-Carballeira at Bangor University’s School of Modern Languages & Culture, current events should be viewed and analysed through the longer lens of history.

Dr Miguélez-Carballeira has organised a student and public meeting to place these events in their wider political and historical context.

Understanding independence in contemporary Spain: notes on the Catalan referendum is on Friday, 27th October, 2017 between 3pm - 5pm. Spaces are limited, so people can register to attend the event by following the instructions on the relevant Event entry on the University’s website.

Dr Helena Miguélez-Carballeira, who witnessed events in Catalonia during the referendum, will be speaking at the event.  She is an expert on Spanish politics and national conflict, and the author of forthcoming book Contested Colonialities in the Long Spanish Century: Empire, Nation and Independence (Palgrave).

Hywel Williams MP, Plaid Cymru will also be speaking at the event. He was present for the referendum in his role as Chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Catalonia

Dr Miguélez-Carballeira explains:

“The recent events in Catalonia have been long in the making- and reflect an unresolved issue in Spanish history. The right of self-determination was debated when the new Spanish Constitution was created in 1978, but the question is coming back again with a vengeance.”

The modern Spanish state has long-since taken a centralist approach to demands for greater devolved powers from Basque and Catalan nationalists.

The referendum on self-determination in Catalonia on the 1st of October has created a constitutional crisis of unprecedented dimensions in the post-Franco period.

“Whereas previous nationalist or independence campaigns have seen extremist actions, such as those by the Basque separatists ETA, until their renunciation of violence in 2011, the recent independence movement in Catalonia has been marked by its wholly peaceful conduct, which, it could be argued, has made the response of the Spanish central government appear all the more heavy-handed.”

Publication date: 13 October 2017