Thursday, 13 December 2012

Improve Europeans’ Image of Catalan Nationalism through Nous Catalans

In my contacts with fellow immigrants to Catalonia from Sweden and other EU countries, I am usually sadly surprised about the limited interest they take in the Catalan language and, on top of that, that they usually have an extremely negative image of our "regional" politics and politicians. Among expats who live and work in the centre of Barcelona, I feel that the majority are quite up-dated with the latest anti-catalanista arguments we tend to find in Madrid based press, radio and TV, while they do not seem equally receptive to the perspectives presented in Catalan media.

To blame this on a lack of knowledge of Catalan is too simplistic an explanation, since the Barcelona based quality newspaper LaVanguardia is readily available in Spanish. Neither can the reason be that these foreigners do not have Catalan "nationalists" among their neighbours, since the sum of the parties which (more or less) have this profile (CiU, ERC, ICV-EUiA and CUP) always beats the number of votes for the typical unionist parties (PP anc C’s), even in municipalities like Cornellà del Llobregat, Castelldefels and Badalona.

So can it be that these foreigners simply do not have any natural spaces to interact with catalanistes? Or, alternatively, can it be that Catalan "nationalists" prefer to remain silent when their foreign-born neighbours or colleagues joke about or openly challenge, for example, the overwhelmingly well accepted Catalan education system? So far, I do not have the answers.

Catalonia is different and, to me, that is only fascinating! Ant it is a fact that among the European expats I know, who live further away from the centre of Barcelona, almost everyone accepts Catalan "nationalism" as something absolutely normal. Not all of us out here in the small towns are independentistes but very many of our friends are, and that makes understand that their Catalan identity is 100% genuine and does not have anything to do with a greed for money or political power – the typical explanations promoted in Madrid based media.

The time has come for me to start to actively discuss my picture of Catalonia with other expats. To leverage my efforts I have decided to join the association Nous Catalans (New Catalans) where they are just about to establish a section for us Europeans, Espai Europa.

The plans for now are to kick off early next year with a theme day on the topic “Entrepreneurship and Business, Catalonia and Europe” where we will invite all European residents (from the EU as well as other countries, not the least Russia) who want to learn to know Catalonia.

Are you interested in this project? If you are, please, let me know or get in direct contact with the head office of Nous Catalans.

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Just to clarify: Catalanisme (Catalan "nationalism") is not the same as independentisme (separatism). Let me exemplify: Today, we would not see as many manifestations of Catalan independentisme (the demand for a new European state) as we currently do, had only Spain and the EU been more prepared to accept a Catalan national identity, albeit as a nation without a state.

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Just in case: The second most voted party in Catalonia, PSC, has not been included here since although they defended the concept of Catalonia as a nation (see the original version of Estatut as approved by the Spanish parliament), they (as I interpret it) do not think that this nation has the right to decide its future unless the rest of Spain agrees to it.

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