Thursday, 17 March 2011

What Italy Can Teach Us about Catalonia

In Spain it is easy to find expat Scandinavians who are tired of Catalonia trying to be “so special” and not accepting that it is “just another Spanish region”. Among Catalans, there is usually very little understanding of these opinions. The fact that so many foreigners still refuse to let go of them depends, above all, on the images of concepts such as nation and state which we bring with us from our countries of origin.

I think we have a lot to learn from the article "The country that is not" which the Swedish expert on Italy Tomas Lappalainen has written in view of the 150th anniversary of the unification of the Italian state celebrated today, on March 17. "Italy is an attempt to put together the oldest local cultures of Europe into a common one", he writes and lets us understand that it is an impossible task since it is “the own village and its lifestyle which stands out... ... as the very centre of life."

Spain is not Italy, but let us be a little realistic. Which state model gives us the best frame of reference to understand how residents of Vilanova i la Geltrú, Sitges or Vilafranca del Penedès see their surroundings: the Italian or the Swedish one?

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The translations of the title and the quotations are my own. Anyone who is prepared to read in Swedish is warmly encouraged to read Lappalainen’s full article. You can find the link at the end of the Swedish version of this text.

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