Heritage and separatism in Barcelona: the case of El Born Cultural Centre

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This paper explores the ways in which heritage sites at the crux of neighbourhood renewal and redevelopment initiatives in Barcelona have been manipulated to advance Catalan separatist agendas. We focus specifically on El Born Cultural Centre which was officially opened in September 2013 amid heightened calls for Catalan independence from Spain. A former market site, the centre’s key attraction is its archaeology which has been re-imagined and presented to communicate the horrors of war inflicted on the citizens of Barcelona following the War of Succession in 1714. Narratives that emphasise the historical degradation of Catalan political or cultural identity and/or work to reaffirm the distinct and separate nature of Catalan nationalism resonated strongly with the political reawakening of Catalonians in the run up to the 2014 November referendum on independence. The referendum which was subsequently deemed illegal by the Spanish government, and subsequent regional elections were held in 2015. In considering the negotiation of El Born during this drive for independence, this paper suggests that an examination of heritage sites and the ways in which they engage with, or are received by multiple stakeholders, can offer insights into the complexity of separatist campaigns in ethno-nationalist societies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-445
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 25 Mar 2016


  • Heritage
  • Barcelona
  • Catalonia
  • El Born
  • Separatism


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