A substantial collection of scholarly articles exploring, and defending, the prospects for Catalonia’s independence from Spain.
Castro’s debut effort, as editor of an anthology of 35 articles both investigating and advocating for Catalonian independence, is politically timely. This last September 11, Catalonia’s National Day, a colossal gathering of 1.5 million protesters filled the streets of Barcelona demanding independence from Spain. That’s a historically impressive turnout but even more astounding when one considers that it’s one-fifth of Catalonia’s population. The essays are largely written by professional academics, though a few are written by European diplomats. Most are very brief, some only a few pages long, and none exceeds 10 pages. Thematically, this is a broad and diverse assemblage of treatments evaluating the possible economic, political, cultural and educational ramifications of Catalonia’s secession from Spain. Acknowledging that Catalan cultural identity is closely tied to its unique language, the book has five articles devoted to Catalonian linguistic heritage. A sense of cultural defense enlivens the collection, as Catalonian president Artur Mas avers in his introduction to the volume: “We find that we contribute a huge amount, too much even, and though we help as much as we can, we are neither understood nor respected for who we are.” Along these lines, many of the articles take up the cause of Catalonian sovereignty as a matter of national self-determination. Other contributors interpret independence as a political issue or as Josep M. Muñoz puts it, they are animated by “motives” that are “more democratic than nationalist.” The essays amassed are lively, lucid and provocatively puckish, as well as edifying. While some intellectual diversity is gained by including contributions from outside Catalonia (there are articles cataloging the view from Scotland, Brussels and the U.S.), the book would have benefited from at least one or two pieces making the case against independence. This omission makes the work as a whole more activist than strictly philosophical. Also, the rhetoric hurled against the purportedly despotic Spain sometimes verges on hyperventilated; Elisenda Paluzie accuses the nation of “domination” and “treachery.” Still, this collection is packed with a college course’s worth of interesting information.
For either those well-versed in the case of Catalonian independence or for the uninitiated, an estimable addition to an increasingly tempestuous debate.