CFP: NeMLA session (Catalan and Basque Studies)

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    Stephanie A. Mueller

    Dissent from Within: Contesting Basque and Catalan Nationalist Narratives

    Session at NeMLA Annual Convention in Toronto, Canada, April 30 – May 3, 2015

    Abstract deadline: September 30, 2014

    The polarizing political rhetoric of the debates on nationalisms in Spain often paints a simplistic opposition between center and periphery that eclipses the voices within the Basque Country and Catalonia that contest their communities’ dominant nationalist narratives. This panel will explore contemporary Basque and/or Catalan cultural production that challenges or represents alternatives to nation-making projects, with particular interest in the inclusion of cultural, linguistic, racial, economic, sexual, or religious others.

    Please submit 300-word abstracts by September 30th at

    Session chair: Stephanie Mueller (

    Panel abstract:

    The current controversies in Spain surrounding the Catalan government’s proposed independence referendum and protests organized by Basque groups’ in support of ETA prisoners’ rights, along with the inflamed, polarizing rhetoric characterizing these debates, are indicative of a persistent opposition between Spain’s center and periphery, and more specifically between state-supported Spanish nationalism and sub-state Basque and Catalan nationalisms. However, while mainstream nationalisms in Catalonia and the Basque Country, represented by the dominant CiU and PNV parties respectively, enjoy a great deal of support today, social changes brought about by growing immigrant communities and the aftermath of the economic crisis have stirred voices of dissent, as can be seen in recent cultural production dealing with these issues. In spite of the predominant characterization of the nationalist debates in Spain as strictly bipolar, not all of the voices contesting the dominant Catalan or Basque nationalist projects stem from a reactionary Spanish nationalist position. Some instead criticize the exclusionary definitions of Catalan or Basque identities implicit in CiU’s or the PNV’s nation-making policies and discourse and which fail to recognize their respective communities’ diversity.

    This panel session will explore contemporary Basque and Catalan literary or cinematic production that challenges, identifies the shortcomings of, or offers alternatives to nationalist narratives that marginalize particular groups, such as cultural, sexual, religious, economic, or linguistic others. By taking a closer look at cultural production that contests Basque and Catalan nationalism from within, rather than from a Spanish centralist perspective, this panel session would aim to better recognize the diversity within the Basque and Catalan communities; to question the simplistic opposition between centralist Spanish and peripheral Basque or Catalan identities; and to shed light on those subjects who are marginalized by that opposition.

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