Located in north eastern Spain, Catalonia has long displayed the attributes of a nation: distinct language and culture, separate social and political institutions, and a strong collective identity. At the same time, it is one of Spain's centres of economic dynamism and innovation. As such, it is an especially striking instance of what has come to be known as 'minority' or 'internal' nations within a larger political order.
Even after the Franco dictatorship's systematic suppression of Catalan language and culture, the idea that the Catalan nation needed to have an independent state of its own remained at the margins of Catalan politics. Yet, in recent years Catalan independence has become: the formal objective of Catalonia's nationalist parties; the focus of a strongly mobilized social movement; and the primary option of as much as half of Catalonia's electorate. This drive to independence even led to a failed unilateral declaration of independence. How can this remarkable transformation best be explained and what does it portend for the future of Catalonia and Spain? This new edition seeks to answer these questions.
At the same time, the book analyzes the proposal for an independent Catalan state while also showing how the Catalan question might be resolved within Spain, by creating a multinational federation. It also explains why there is little prospect of either project coming to pass.
The book demonstrates the dangers and contradictions of a state nationalism that denies the very existence of internal nations, while also exploring the terms under which such nations can be accommodated within a larger political order. On this basis, it addresses a critical challenge to the political institutions of much of Europe and North America.
About the author
Kenneth McRoberts is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, York University, Toronto, Canada. His publications include Misconceiving Canada: The Struggle for National Unity, second editon (OUP Canada, 2019).