Tales of Nationalism: Catalonia, 1939-1979 / Edition 1 available in Hardcover
- Pub. Date:
- Rutgers University Press
During the Franco regime in Spain, Catalans mounted a national opposition movement, demanding national symbols and national autonomy. Sociologist Hank Johnston's study of Catalan nationalism is based on interviews with labor, student, nationalist, and leftist militants. He asks how nationalist and ethnic mobilization can re-emerge after decades of state repression, a question of particular importance in light of Soviet nationalist movements.
When the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939, Franco dismantled all regional political institutions and repressed the Catalan language. Catalans developed ingenious stategies to keep alive their ethnic identity. An oppositional culture took shape. By the 1960s, Catalanism came into the open. During the mass mobilization of the 1970s, Catalans who had not been active joined the movement.
Catalans are a diverse group, including working class people, middle class people, and many immigrants from elsewhere in Spain. Nonetheless, they mobilized as a unified group, despite traditional antagonisms. Nationalists overcame their dislike for the Left, many Catholics became Marxists, and working-class immigrants mobilized alongside the middle class. Johnston argues that traditional enemies achieved accommodation by processes that were cultural and symbolic.
To show how cultural meanings were changed over time, Johnston applies discourse analysis to ethnic mobilization. This approach "seeks to understand and explain the production and interpretation of naturally occurring speech and textual materials." Such an approach is commonly used by sociologists of language and linguistic anthropologists, but Johnston is the first to use it to study a political movement. In their own words the Catalans spoke to Johnston of their childhood and family experiences with repression, of how they were recruited and participated in the movement, and of the meaning of the movement for them. Through their interpretations of everyday life we come to understand how the Catalan opposition progressed from the covert state into which it was forced by Francoist repression to a mass mobilization.
For studies of social movements to date, the dominant perspective has been resource mobilization theory. Sociologists are now moving away from this toward an analysis of culture. Johnston joins this trend, as he focuses on the role of cultural forces in the Catalan movement. For him, culture is more important than the participants' rational calculations of political power and resources.
This book is a study of ethnic mobilization in Catalonia, using recently developed approaches and methods. On another level, it is a study of mobilization, resistance, repression, and political change that has relevance far beyond Catalonia. Throughout the manuscript, and especially in the concluding chapter, Johnston compares the events in Catalonia to events in the Basque region and to the emergent nationalist oppositions in the Soviet Union.