Estat Propi : Negotiations of statehood in Catalonia



This study provides an anthropological analysis of the contemporary independence movement in Catalonia, Spain, with reference to material from both my own ethnographic fieldwork and a wide range of literary sources.

Through providing a historical, social and political context of post-Franco Catalonia – with a focus upon the normalisation of nationalism and protectionist politics that the Catalan Generalitat’s policies engendered – the study embarks upon an exploration of the importance of social discourse and negotiation in the maintenance, redefinition and reproduction of what is described herein as the ‘contemporary Catalan state’. This ‘social fantasy’ (Hansen & Stepputat 2001) is the concept of what a future Catalan state could be like: constantly being redefined and reproduced by its proponents through informal negotiations on particularities of personal interest.

Due to the lack of any institutional state endorsement or a significant political-powerbase, the conceptual Catalan state is unstable and of questionable legitimacy – something which is both recognised and addressed by those Catalans who support it. This studysuggests that state formation can be a social process achieved through negotiation and discourse – especially in the case of nations without states – and is a complex process of both formal and informal negotiations, drawing upon informal knowledge hierarchies of perceived ‘authorities’ and incorporating nationalist understandings of history, territory,language, culture and identity.

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