Constructing Contemporary Nationhood in the Museums and Heritage Centres of Catalonia

C Breen, Wes Forsythe, John Raven

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Geographically, Spain consists of a complex mosaic of cultural identities and regional aspirations for varying degrees of autonomy and independence. Following the end of violent conflict in the Basque country, Catalonia has emerged as the most vocal region pursuing independence from the central Spanish state. Within the Catalan separatist movement, cultural heritage sites and objects have been appropriated to play an intrinsic role in supporting political aims, with a variety of cultural institutions and state-sponsored monumentality playing an active part in the formation and dissemination of particular identity-based narratives. These are centred around the themes of a separate and culturally distinct Catalan nation which has been subject to extended periods of oppression by the varying manifestations of the Spanish state. This study addresses the increasing use of museums and heritage institutions to support the concept of a separate and distinctive Catalan nation over the past decade. At various levels, from the subtle to the blatant, heritage institutions are propagating a message of cultural difference and past injustice against the Catalan people, and perform a more consciously active, overt and supportive role in the independence movement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-82
Number of pages12
JournalMuseum and Society
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished online - 1 Jul 2020


  • Catalonia
  • Heritage
  • Museums
  • Conflict


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