07 SES 01 B, Students' Perceptions on (Inter)nationalism
This proposal is based on empirical work undertaken in Catalonia (Spain) in 2014. The aim was to analyse the Catalan ‘we’ constructed by Catalan students through their interpretation of historical events and to examine the extent to which this ‘we’ is open to non-dominant groups.
The concepts of nation and national identity are contested. Nations are usually described as ‘imagined communities’ (Andersoon, 1983) in which national history plays the role of collective memory (Wersth, 2008). From this understanding, national history is “not a sacred history but an invented tradition” (Meyers, 2004:141) to define an eternal identity for the nation (Ricoeur, 1984). The notions of national ‘sameness’ (De Cillia, Reisigl & Wodak, 1999), ‘togetherness’ (Rüsen, 2004) and ‘destiny’ (Christou, 2007) seem to indicate that national identities are built upon the unity of a common past, present and future.
The role of history education in promoting this national unity has been highly debated. Following Bourdieau (1994), history education inculcates the ‘fundamental presuppositions of the self-image’ (1994:4) which constitutes the base of the national we. The love and loyalty to the nation is exalted (Carretero, 2007; Falaize, Heimberg & Loubes, 2013) at the same time that the national identity is stimulated. However, the educational construction of this ‘national we’ usually implies processes of exclusion and domination. National history education might be intrinsically exclusive. The process of creating a unified ‘we’ is usually based on establishing the borders between the ‘we’ and ‘the others’ (e.g. Anderson, 1983; Moreno & Arriba, 1996; Buckley-Zistel, 2008). Therefore, creating a ‘national we’ seems to necessarily imply creating an international or intranational ‘others’. Similarly, national history education has been criticized either for being an imposition of the dominant cultural values to the non-dominant groups (Giroux, 1997; Ross, Mathison & Vinson, 2014) or for leaving those who are not aware of the national narrative socially excluded (Meyers, 2004).
We understand that ‘nations without state’ (Guibernau, 2000) such as Northern Ireland, Quebec, Scotland, the Basque Country, etc. also might try to generate some sort of togetherness and sameness through history education. Furthermore, recent events such as the Scottish Referendum on September 2014 and the Informal Vote on November 2014 in Catalonia can question whether Europe is living another nation-building era (Keating, 1997; Kymlicka, 2011). However, the present Europe is not the same than the 19th Century Europe when most European national identities were ‘imagined’. Considering that certain processes such as globalization, decolonization and Europeanization have generated much more complex societies, we wonder whether the creation, and also the consolidation, of a national ‘we’ might be more inclusive or exclusive than it was before.
Catalonia can be considered a key example of a nation without state (Guibernau, 2000). Within Catalonia, multiple combinations of national identities coexist (e.g. Catalan identity alone, Catalan and Spanish identity, Spanish identity alone, other countries’ identities). One of the main symbols of the Catalan identity is the national day (Prat, 1991; Guibernau, 2000). The national day commemorates the defeat of Barcelona after a massive Franco-Spanish attack in 1714. 2014 saw the 300th Jubilee of this historical event, during which Catalan public and private institutions promoted a number of educational resources to teach children and young people about the national history. In the same year, the economic crisis coexisted with the informal vote on independence of Catalonia. Within this context, we decided to investigate how the Catalan identity is discursively constructed through historical events. In particular the following questions are asked:
- How do Catalan students in 2014 construct the national ‘we’ through the historical event of 1714?
- What groups might feel included and excluded from the national ‘we’ constructed?
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