Building democratic Spain: Memory, identity, and nationalist films (1975--2001)

Date of Completion

January 2010


Literature, Modern|Literature, Romance|History, European|Cinema




This dissertation explores memory, identity and nationalisms in Post-Franco Spain. In the context of the new democratic Spain, the absence of a common image of the past impedes citizen's ability to generate a new consensual vision of the identity of the collective. In the first study, I analyze how in Sefarad, Muñoz Molina highlights numerous episodes of discrimination in Spain's past in an effort to demonstrate the nation's failure to definitively embrace the Enlightenment values which he views as being essential to the construction of a tolerant and democratic nation. The second study was inspired by a statement from Julio Llamazares: "Spain is an urban society with a rural memory". I suggest that in his novel La lluvia amarilla and his travel book El río del olvido Llamazares seeks to show that the process of modernization which accelerated during the 1980s and 1990s summarily erased the rural identity of Spain which, whether we like it or not, must be taken into consideration when speaking about the present future of the country. The third of my studies look at how the Autonomous Governments of Catalonia and the Basque Country sought, in the wake of the first Autonomous elections in 1980, to generate countervailing discourses of national identity through the production of films which obsessively highlighted the "differential facts" in these places and how, by the early 1990s, this effort began to lose momentum in Catalonia and Euskadi owing to the growing public disenchantment with the imposition of essentialist concepts of individual and group identity. ^