Pol04
Performing transformation, claiming transition: public gatherings and rituals in Catalonia from the 1970s to the present

Convenors:
Alessandro Testa (Charles University, Prague)
Dorothy Noyes (Ohio State University)
Mariann Vaczi (University of Nevada, Reno)
Stream:
Politics and Social Movements
Location:
Aula 29
Start time:
16 April, 2019 at 16:30
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

Since the Transition, collective gatherings, public events, and festive rituals have proliferated in Catalonia. We invite historical "tracking" of such events across the democratic period as well as ethnographic investigations of the "traces" of history in current public expressions.

Long abstract:

Catalonia's participation in the Spanish transition to democracy in the 1970s found a potent resource in traditional festival: conceptual, gestural, and tactical. With the Franco regime's tight restrictions on public assembly, "going out to the street" became an act of democratic self-assertion, so that the high-risk confrontations of strike and protest were bolstered by lower-stakes, more multivocal forms of appearing in public. Rooted festival and associative traditions, Spain's incorporation into international youth culture and European consumerism, the lifting of restrictions on assembly and expression after Franco's death, and the eventual restoration of full democracy all encouraged a fervent reclamation of public space. Since the Transition, public gatherings and rituals have proliferated in Catalonia: new and old festivities attached to communal identities, youth and LGBT sociability, commemorative rituals, international arts and sports events, social movement revindications, strikes and protests, rallies and referenda. Public actions of diverse tendencies provided rhetorical evidence for the convivència claimed as foundational to both Spanish and Catalan democracy, and, later, for claims of convivència's breakdown. Today the public arena and the now-contested concept of convivència have become increasingly polarized around the issue of Catalan sovereignty. We invite historical "tracking" of such events across the democratic period and, conversely, ethnographic investigations of the "traces" of history in current public expressions. How have the powers of performance and the inertias of genre, interacting with radical transformation and pluralization in the social base of public expressions, contributed to the current situation?