Antoni Vives
Smart City Barcelona. The Catalan Quest to Improve Future Urban Living
(Brighton: Sussex Academic Press/Cañada Blanch/Catalan Observatory, 2018)
ISBN: 978-1-84519-918-0


Barcelona's transformation into the world's leading smart city is explained by one of its chief protagonists. SMART CITY Barcelona provides an essential guide for innovation and leadership for all those who participate in the design of cities in the 21st century.

The Barcelona municipality is a driving force in the creation of city employment, well-being and opportunity. What can the world learn from the Barcelona model? What should municipal governments' priorities be when committing to this development model? What are smart cities and what are they not? Why do they generate so much controversy?

Based on the author's experience as deputy mayor of urbanism, housing, infrastructures, environment, energy, ICT, and innovation in Barcelona City Council, as well as a consultant and lecturer to cities across the world (Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Doha, Dubai, Oslo, Prague, Moscow and Bogotá, to name a few), SMART CITY Barcelona presents twelve theoretical and practical lessons for all citizens, civil servants, politicians, architects, city planners and businessmen who wish to contribute to the design of 21st century cities. The urban development vision to integrate information and communication technology (ICT) and internet of things (IoT) technology in way that makes best use of the resources and human assets peculiar to a city has attracted popular attention and social media comment as people view this new vision as the promotion of the artistic, spiritual and political life of the city they live in.

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Pol Dalmau
Press, Politics and National Identities in Catalonia. The Transformation of La Vanguardia, 1881-1931
(Brighton: Sussex Academic Press/Cañada Blanch/Catalan Observatory, 2017)
ISBN: 978-1-84519-815-2


For more than three generations, the members of the Godó family controlled Barcelona's top-selling newspaper La Vanguardia, navigating it through the country's turbulent 20th century. Whether under the corrupt politics of the Bourbon Restoration, the takeover of Primo de Rivera's dictatorship or the radical transformations of the Second Republic, La Vanguardia remained Barcelona's indisputable journalistic benchmark. Central to this success was the Godó family's capacity to turn their newspaper into an active mouthpiece for Catalan interests in the rest of Spain. In a period characterized by political turmoil and heated controversies over identity, La Vanguardia remained one of the most active bridges between Barcelona and Madrid. At the same time, ownership of the newspaper allowed family members to expand their interests into other fields, such as politics, business and colonial rule in Cuba and Morocco.

Drawing on a wide range of archival material, this book is the first account of one of the most influential (yet at the same time, least known) newspapers in modern Spain. In so doing, it sheds new light on how the media shaped and conditioned the birth of mass politics in Europe. While contemporaries often observed that newspapers had a powerful influence over public affairs, historians have not systematically examined the role of press owners as 'political actors'. In contrast, Pol Dalmau focuses on the case of a renowned family in Barcelona to uncover the media's critical role in Europe's uneven road to modernity.

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'Disdain, Distrust and Dissolution: The Surge of Support for Independence in Catalonia' by Germà Bel.

Germà Bel
Disdain, Distrust and Dissolution: The Surge of Support for Independence in Catalonia
(Brighton: Sussex Academic Press/Cañada Blanch/Catalan Observatory, 2015)
ISBN 978-1-84519-704-9


Support for independence in Catalonia has increased rapidly over the past decade. This dynamic is the result of Catalans in political, economic and academic fields who no longer believe that the necessary reform of Spanish government is a viable option in terms of achieving an acceptable arrangement for Catalonia to stay within the Spanish state. Rejecting assimilation on the basis that a uni-national state is unworkable for a host of structural reasons, not least the lack of reform progress to date, secession is viewed as the preferred choice for the betterment of the region's people.

Disdain, Distrust and Dissolution dissects the problems of the relationship between Catalonia and Spain. The author investigates the dynamics of conflict between opposing groups, the resulting effects on inter-territorial distrust, and the impact on the functioning of the Spanish state as a whole. These conflictual issues are projected onto areas of public policy that reflect basic motivations of rising public support for independence: national identity and sense of community (language and education policy); economic viability (fiscal relations with the state); and future opportunities in a global world (issues of infrastructure, especially transport).

The overwhelming conclusion is that the accumulation of mutual distrust between the opposing parties is a major obstacle to the functioning of the Spanish state. Mutual perception of unfairness and lack of trust is an impediment to the design and functioning of future shared projects - and without agreement and engagement there is no benefit to either party, to the detriment of Spain and its peoples. 

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'‘Goodbye Spain?’ The Question of Independence for Catalonia' by Kathryn Crameri.

Kathryn Crameri
Goodbye Spain?’ The Question of Independence for Catalonia
(Brighton: Sussex Academic Press/Cañada Blanch/Catalan Observatory, 2014)
ISBN 978-1-84519-659-2


Support for independence in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia has risen significantly since 2005. Opinion polls confirm that the idea of holding a legally-binding referendum on independence is now supported by 80% of Catalans. Many commentators on nationalism in Western Europe had come to the conclusion that there was no serious threat to the established nation-states from secessionism within their borders. In  The Identity of Nations (2007), Montserrat Guibernau wrote that decentralisation 'tames secessionism, both by offering significant power and resources to the national minorities it seeks to accommodate and by enticing regional political elites with the power, prestige and perks associated with devolution'. Scott Greer, in  Nationalism and Self-Government (2007), wrote that 'secession seems unlikely' in the Catalan case because the regional political elites have too much to lose by such a move and are most concerned with winning further autonomy in specific areas that stabilise their own hold on regional power - a conclusion called into question by the recent radicalisation in Catalan politics and civil society.

Causes for these striking changes in public sentiment include changes in the Catalan political landscape since 2003, problems of infrastructure, public apathy with the political process, disillusionment with the Spanish government, a rise in anti-Catalan feeling from other Spaniards (and a rise in anti-'Spanish' feeling among Catalans), the effects of the global financial crisis and the bumpy ride experienced by Catalonia's new Statute of Autonomy. One notable change has been a shift in the dominant discourse of Catalan nationalism from concerns regarding language, culture and identity toward the political and economic welfare of Catalans. These political and economic discourses have overlaid rather than replaced cultural aspects. 

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'The Great Recession: A Subversive View' by Carles Manera.

Carles Manera
The Great Recession: A Subversive View
(Brighton: Sussex Academic Press/Cañada Blanch/Catalan Observatory, 2013)
ISBN 978-1-84519-603-5


This book analyses the major economic crisis that began in 2007-8 and continues in 2013. Carles Manera explains that it is not just a financial crisis, caused primarily by the banking sector, as many commentators claim, but a systemic crisis caused in part by overproduction, falls in business profits, environmental problems and a stubborn insistence by political and monetary authorities on economic policies driven by austerity. Providing examples from the economic history of western nations, which provide economists and social scientists with essential reference for understanding the complexities behind this Great Recession, the author proposes economic solutions to end the crisis that are at odds with policies proposed and acted on by major European governments, led by Germany. Manera thus adopts a heterodox approach - a "subversive view" - making this book stand out not only from governmental economic policy-making but taking a stance far from conventional academic literature on economics.

Prof. Manera is highly critical of the economic policy coming out of Berlin and Brussels, in which ultra-neoliberal orthodoxy is the predominant form of economic action. He is of the firm opinion that this wrong path will only prolong the crisis for the most vulnerable members of society and for the middle classes, which make up the economic consumer power-house of the European economy. A prime objective of the work is to foster a committed viewpoint and engagement by all European nation states whereby Germany should lead Europe out of this Great Recession (rather than leading Germany only out) and that the European Central Bank should broaden substantively its objectives and concentrate on policies that support economic growth.

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'Catalonia Since the Spanish Civil War: Reconstructing the Nation' by Andrew Downling.

Andrew Dowling
Catalonia Since the Spanish Civil War: Reconstructing the Nation
(Brighton: Sussex Academic Press/Cañada Blanch/Catalan Observatory, 2013)
ISBN 978-1-84159-530-4


Catalonia since the Spanish Civil  War examines the transformation of the Catalan nation in socio-economic, political and historical terms, and offers an innovative interpretation of the determinants of its nationalist mobilisation. With Franco's and Spanish nationalism's victory in 1939 and the consolidation of a long-lasting dictatorship, it appeared certain that the Catalan national movement would be crushed. Yet, this did not happen and Catalan nationalism and identity reemerged at the end of Franco's dictatorship in 1975 more firmly rooted than before. The core of  Catalonia since the Spanish Civil  War traces the Francoist repression and the nationalist response to it, demonstrating how new political actors reconfigured Catalan nationalism over the course of the Franco regime (1939-1975).

Post-Franco, Catalan cultural and political identity was consolidated and Catalonia became the most successful  state-less nationalism in western Europe. The 21st century has been marked by an ever-growing independence movement, culminating in the vast demonstration in the city of Barcelona in July 2010. Andrew Dowling provides multi-faceted viewpoints in historic perspective, and reflects on possible steps and outcomes for this new pro-independence turn in Catalan nationalism.

This study will appeal not only to students of Spain but also to those interested in nationalism as a separate issue of enquiry. The themes treated in the book - Franco's Spain, nationalism, anarchism, Catholicism, communism and the Catalan role in Spain's transition to democracy - make this work an essential point of reference for students and researchers in Hispanic studies, modern European history and political science.

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'Infrastructure and the Political Economy of Nation Building in Spain, 1970-2010' by Germà Bel.

Germà Bel
Infrastructure and the Political Economy of Nation Building in Spain, 1970-2010
(Brighton: Sussex Academic Press/Cañada Blanch/Catalan Observatory, 2012)
ISBN 978-1-84519-507-6


This book sets out to explain the very particular characteristics of Spanish infrastructure policy. The capital city of Madrid plays a central role. It not only achieved the status of economic capital of Spain in recent decades but together with its status as administrative and political capital Madrid endowed itself as  absolute capital. The challenge is to understand  why such development has taken place.

First, radial policies in transport infrastructure, which were primarily subordinate to political and administrative objectives, could not be supported by the dynamics of economic activity. For that reason these policies demanded the use of extensive budgetary resources in the form of subsidies and grants that made possible what legislation alone could not achieve. Second, these policies respond to a regular and continuing historical pattern in Spanish politics, which began with the accession to the Spanish Crown of the Bourbon dynasty in the early eighteenth century. The new dynasty tried hard to translate into practice the vision of building a 'Nation like France, with a Capital like Paris'.  Third, the enduring strength of this historical pattern allows us to understand why infrastructural policies in Spain today are so unique and different from those of surrounding and comparable countries.

Originally published to great acclaim in Spanish and Catalan, Prof. Bel places the historical perspective in contemporary viewpoint in discussing the Spanish enthusiasm for high-speed railway, with the prospect of Madrid being connected with all provincial capitals, albeit while freight by train has been neglected; a fully centralized model of airport management that is unmatched among comparable countries; and a mixed (toll and toll-free motorways) and highly asymmetric territorial highway funding model for motorways.

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Olivia Muñoz-Rojas
Ashes and Granite. Destruction and Reconstruction in the Spanish Civil War and its Aftermath
(Brighton: Sussex Academic Press/Cañada Blanch/Catalan Observatory, 2011)
ISBN: 978-1-84519-436-9


Olivia Muñoz-Rojas critically examines the wartime destruction and post-war rebuilding of three prominent sites in Madrid, Bilbao and Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath. Each case highlights different dimensions of the material impact of the conflict, the practical challenges of reconstruction and the symbolic uses of the two processes by the winning side. The book reveals aspects of the Spanish Civil War and the evolution of the Franco regime from an original and fruitful angle as well as more general insights into the topic of wartime destruction and post-war reconstruction of cities. The title - Ashes and Granite - aims to capture, visually and texturally, on the one hand, the damage caused by the war and, on the other, the Franco regime's concept of the ideal Hispanic construction material.

Written from an interdisciplinary perspective at the intersection of urban and political history and theory, planning and architecture, the book draws largely on unpublished archival material. Key features of the Franco regime's rebuilding programme are considered, such as the priority given to rural reconstruction and the persistent search for a national architectural style. The case of Madrid centres on the failure of the Falange's ambitious plans for a neo-imperial capital as illustrative of the regime's gradual shift from state planning to privately driven urban development. The case of Bilbao focuses on the reconstruction of the bridges of the city to demonstrate how, occasionally, the regime managed to turn destruction and reconstruction into opportunities for successfully marking the beginning of what was perceived as a new era in Spain's history. Finally, the opening of Avenida de la Catedral in Barcelona exemplifies how wartime destruction sometimes facilitated the implementation of controversial planning, acting as a catalyst for urban redevelopment. Moreover, the opening of the avenue contributed to the disclosure of the ancient Roman city-wall, allowing the regime to appropriate the ancient legacy symbolically.

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Ramon Tremosa-i-Balcells
Catalonia, An Emerging Economy
(Brighton: Sussex Academic Press/Cañada Blanch/Catalan Observatory, 2010)
ISBN: 978-1-84519-369-0



In the 21st century Catalonia needs infrastructure that is conceived and managed with a global vision, to take advantage of opportunities that today are equally global: the new economic geography of the world offers the coast of Catalonia and Valencia opportunities of the first magnitude, thanks to the recovery of the Mediterranean's strategic value in world trade.

The Mediterranean sea is set to achieve the highest volume of shipping trade in the world in the 21st century. This anticipated expansion will be due in part to the growth of the Asia-Europe trade corridor, complemented by the proposed Suez Canal enlargement. The Catalan ports of Barcelona, Valencia and Tarragona offer the most efficient and cost-effective port entrance to the Mediterranean, and are poised to gain ascendancy over other European ports offering similar services.

Economists and business leaders predict that Asia will become the main industrial platform of the world and Europe will become the main purchasing market of the world. Such forecasts seem to be on track given that in 2008 the ports of Barcelona and Valencia surpassed the container traffic (measured in TEUs) of the French port of Marseille and the Italian port of Genoa, and this for the first time ever.

Only Catalonia has modern important industrial bases near to the port areas in the Mediterranean sea (this is not the case for Marseille, Genoa or Algeciras); Catalan ports are thus able to add value to semi-manufactured goods imported from the emerging economies in Asia, Africa and South America. It is anticipated that Catalan ports will play a similar role to the Flemish and Dutch ports, which in the twentieth century were at the forefront of the expansion of trade across the Atlantic ocean. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that global logistic operators rate Barcelona as the dominant and most important entrance port for Asian and African trade with Europe in the Mediterranean sea.

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Chris Ealham
Anarchism and the City: Revolution and Counter-revolution in Barcelona, 1898-1937
(Oakland: AK Press/Cañada Blanch Centre, 2010)
ISBN: 9781849350129


Between 1898 and 1937, competing interests from the national government, the regional industrialists, and the working class, fought for control of Barcelona. The social realities of Barcelona-as Spain's economic, cultural, social, and political capital-provided a perfect backdrop for battle over the urban future. Chris Ealham explores these complex and often violent relationships, utilizing an innovative blend of history, urbanism, sociology, and cultural studies. No other work digs this deep into the composition of an urban working class movement-and certainly not with such a sympathetic eye for the aspirations of its anarchist denizens.

"Scrupulously researched and well written, this is the finest study of working-class anarchist life and culture since Paul Avrich's The Haymarket Tragedy. Not only a study of working-class Barcelona, Anarchism and the City is the story of anarchists organizing themselves where they lived, and of the militant culture they were a part of and helped to create. Ealham's book draws on a marvelous array of sources, and offers a picture of anarchism in Spain that is both groundbreaking, honest, and, yes, inspirational. This is the history of the barrios coming alive in your hands. Put simply, no future study of anarchism can ever ignore this book, which comes closer than any other English-language work in understanding what anarchism and its practice meant to Spanish working-class people at the time."―Barry Pateman, Associate Editor at the Emma Goldman Papers and editor of Chomsky on Anarchism.

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