When I studied abroad last spring, I spent part of my spring break in Corfu, Greece and part of it in Barcelona, Spain. I didn’t know much about Barcelona besides the infamous party scene and I wasn’t expecting a very rich cultural or historical experience. My friends and fellow study abroaders had told me about the clubs, but my knowledge stopped there.
The first morning we were there, my friends and I took a free four-hour walking tour of the city and I was absolutely fascinated. All of my pre-conceived notions were proved wrong. I think all the information I acquired on this tour is what prompted me to want to return to Barcelona so badly. I only got to spend two whole days there – which wasn’t nearly enough to really explore the intricacies of the city. I loved the famous landmarks – La Sagrada Familia and the Park Guell to name a few.
But what I was really interested in was Barcelona being a province of Catalonia and the sense of independence and autonomy from the rest of Spain that the people of this region possess. While Catalonia is technically a part of Spain, the vast majority of its inhabitants don’t see their situation in this way. Instead, they view their region as completely separate from Spain – a place with their own unique culture, history, and language.
The rivalry between the Real Madrid and Barcelona “soccer” teams is practically unmatched across the globe – this rivalry is not just about a game. This rivalry is rooted in intense nationalism. Their motto, “Més que un club,” which means ‘More than a club’ is telling of how important the team is to the region’s cause. This is just one example of how strongly the region feels about exerting their independence.
Because of my interest in this topic, I went in search of a Catalan think tank concerned with the political movement of Catalan nationalism which strives to establish Catalonia as its own nation. That is when I found Cercle d’Estudis Sobiranistes. It would help if I spoke Catalan, but they do have an English translation on their website. Essentially, in this organization’s “Founding Manifesto,” they are calling for a revolution of sorts to preserve their Catalan identity.
A section of the Manifesto summarizes their cause: “We do not resign ourselves to decay and disappearance; we do not want to lose the dignity and pride of being Catalans. It is time for the rising up of men and women who are free with the aim to establish the conditions to decide upon the constitution of Catalonia as an independent State integrated in the European Union, exercising its right to self-determination recognised by the United Nations for all people in application of the democratic principle and in the content of the Vienna Agreements on international treaties and succession of States.”
Although this is a translation, I found parallels in the writing style to Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Although arguing for different kinds of revolutions, both authors inspire a rise to action by its readers.
The existence of organizations such as this one amp up my interest in going back to Barcelona. While I am not very educated on the politics of the situation, the fact that they are so set on gaining their independence establishes Catalonia as a strongly unified region who has a true sense of their identity. Honestly, I think this is a rarity in today’s globe and makes this region a very special one. I would love to go back and learn about the issue from the locals themselves. And maybe I’ll even pick up on a little Catalan too.