Running with fire: Catalan ethnic identity in 21st century Spain
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 09:59 by Eloise Hummell
Catalan ethnic identity is an ongoing process of transformation, negotiation and meaning-making that is set within and draws sustaining energies from a field of dynamic and ambiguous connections. Many social theorists label Catalan people as an ethnic group yet very little work has focused specifically on the ongoing formation of Catalan ethnic identity. Catalans are most often mentioned alongside Basque, Québécois, Scots, Celts and Flemish. That is, they are usually categorised with groups that exhibit strong nationalist sentiments or are considered as nations-without-states. As the vast majority of works on Catalan identity focus on nationalism and few on ethnicity, I saw an opportunity to utilise an ethnicity framework to better understand an ‘identity under construction’, an identity that is responding in novel ways to present conditions to assert difference and uniqueness. Catalan people are not, however, simply affirming existing difference, but forging a contemporary identity that draws on tensions and ambiguities, and resists reductive inclusion into a dominant Spanish identity. I argue that there is a foreshortening of the full significance of Catalan identity construction if the interpretive grid supplied only by nationalism is invoked. This thesis harnesses the potentials of ethnicity theory to propose that the Catalan struggle for identity embraces complexities and creativities that resist attempts to resolve their identity into particular scripted meanings or contained 'essences'. Ethnographic fieldwork has enabled engagement in the everyday worlds where Catalan ethnicity ‘happens’ to develop nuanced understandings of being and feeling Catalan within contemporary contexts of change and contestation.