Freedom for Catalonia? Catalan Nationalism, Spanish Identity, and the Barcelona Olympic Games

Freedom for Catalonia? Catalan Nationalism, Spanish Identity, and the Barcelona Olympic Games

Freedom for Catalonia? Catalan Nationalism, Spanish Identity, and the Barcelona Olympic Games

Freedom for Catalonia? Catalan Nationalism, Spanish Identity, and the Barcelona Olympic Games

Synopsis

Although the fight for independence by ethnic minorities has received much attention recently, there is no study of how globalized sport in its most advanced form can help to stimulate it. This book shows how the 1992 Olympic Games raised the tension that already existed between Catalonia and Spain. John Hargreaves analyzes and explains the way in which the conflict developed and eventually was resolved in terms of the special characteristics of Catalan nationalism, the nature of the new Spanish democracy and the special role played by the International Olympic Committee.

Excerpt

One of the most intriguing developments of recent years has been the strengthening of local, regional and national identities in the context of the activities of supra-national structures such as the European Union and multinational business corporations, processes of globalisation, and the emergence of a 'new world order' with the collapse of the ussr. the problem of the resurgence of nationalism in the modern world has attracted much scholarly, as well as public interest, but relatively little attention has been paid to the role of sport in this connection and to the role of the Olympic movement in particular, which is a quintessentially global phenomenon. There is no specifically sociological monograph on this problem.

It is abundantly clear that the Olympic ideal of a non-political Games contributing to international understanding cannot be taken at face value, given the extent to which the Olympic movement, in reality, is subject to the play of political, economic and cultural forces. in particular, symbols of the nation and the state and ritual practices celebrating national identities are at the core of the Olympic Games. However, it is certainly a moot point as to whether Olympism merely reflects the influence of such forces, or whether it exists in a much more complex dynamic relationship with them.

The 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games presented an excellent opportunity to examine the relationship between Olympism and nationalism in the form of a case study. the host city is not only an important industrial metropolis within the Spanish state: it is also the capital of Catalonia, a historic nation with a strong sense of cultural identity. Given the past animosities between Madrid and Barcelona – not least during the civil war when Catalonia fought against Franco on the Republican side and suffered his 'politics of revenge' as a result – and given all that was at stake for Spain and for Catalonia economically, politically and culturally as a result of Barcelona's successful bid for the Games, there were bound to be tensions if not outright conflict between them, in which Catalan nationalism would play a major part.

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