Choreographing independence: Performing La Diada, or Catalonia’s National Day, for cultural unity or political division?

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La Diada, Catalonia’s national day, has had a complex history entwined in the cultural politics of Spain. It developed late in the nineteenth century as part of a constructed, reimagining of a past independent Catalan nation. The annual 11 September remembrance event was subsequently suppressed during the Franco regime, and later revived but limited to a short official wreath-laying ceremony with associated cultural events. Since 2012, grassroots independence campaigners have orgainzed huge public marches on the day, calling for Independence as the separatist movement across Catalonia gained momentum in the immediate aftermath of the global economic downturn of 2008. It is now a cultural-politico device and a tool for place making and nation-building. Drawing on Tali Hatuka’s (2018, The Design of Protest; choreographing political demonstrations in public space. Austin: University of Texas Press) approaches to the Design of Protests, and through the utilization of discourse analysis of interviews, media coverage and political policy this study traces the development of the day through a number of key stages and its contemporary appropriated cultural role in the separatist movement. It concludes that the events staged around La Diada are an increasingly divisive set of tactics that lead to cultural alienation and give rise to division and increasing tension in Catalan and broader Spanish society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-250
Number of pages19
JournalHeritage & Society
Issue number3
Early online date26 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 26 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • Catalonia
  • La Diada
  • Barcelona
  • festivals
  • performance
  • memory
  • conflict


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