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Sebastian Balfour, Emeritus Professor of Contemporary Spanish Studies

Balfour

Sebastian Balfour is Emeritus Professor of Contemporary Spanish Studies and Senior Fellow of the Catalan Observatory. He has published many books and articles with a focus on Catalonia and Barcelona. His research on social movements in Barcelona during Francoism and the transition to democracy has been much acclaimed.  His book, Dictatorship, Workers and the City. Labour in Greater Barcelona  since 1939(OUP, 1989) was published in Spain in 1994 with the title La Dictadura, los trabajadores y la ciudad. El movimiento obrero en el área metropolitana de Barcelona (1939-1988) (Alfons el Magnánim, 1994). It was followed by articles and chapters on related themes: ‘El movimiento obrero desde 1939’, Working Papers, Institut de Ciencies Polítiques i Socials, núm 24, Barcelona, 1990; 'Conflicte social i mobilització política en el darrer franquisme, 1960-1976’, in Josep.M. Benaul, Jordi Calvet and Esteve Deu (comp.), Industria i Ciutat. Sabadell, 1800-1980 (Abat Oliba, 1994). He returned to the theme in 2011 and 2012 with ‘Franquisme i modernització. La Seat, emblema d’una contradicció’, in L’Avenç 369, juny 2011, pp. 28-39, and ‘La modernització autoritària a Barcelona: arrels intelectuals i contradicció’ in a book which he edited, Barcelona malgrat el franquisme. La SEAT, la ciutat i la represa sense democràcia (Barcelona: Edicions de la Central, 2012).

Another theme connected with Catalonia to which he has dedicated much research is the reaction to the crisis of 1898 and the Tragic Week of 1909, firstly in his book, The End of the Spanish Empire (OUP, 1997) published in Spanish as  El fin del Imperio español (1898-1923) (Crítica, 1997), and chapters in other books: 'El nacionalisme espanyol com a reacció a la crisi colonial’, in Agustí Colomines (comp), El 98 i Catalunya (Generalitat de Catalunya, 1998); 'L’opinió popular sobre el conflicte de 1898’, in Agustí Colomines (ed.), La resposta catalana a la crisi i perdua colonial de 1898 (Generalitat de Catalunya, 1998); ‘El 98 i la seva ombra’ in J.M. Benaul (ed.) El 1898, 100 anys després  (Fundación Caixa de Sabadell, 1998); ‘Orígens de la Setmana Tràgica: Geopolítica, colonialisme i protesta popular’, in Tràgica, roja i gloriosa: Una setmana de 1909 (Ajuntament de Barcelona, 2009, pp. 55-66); ‘La Semana Trágica: contexto geopolítico internacional’, in Eloy Martín Corrales (ed.), Semana Trágica. Entre las barricadas de Barcelona y el Barranco del Lobo (Barcelona: Edicions Bellaterra, 2011, pp. 33-43).

He has also focused on questions of nation and identity in Spain and Catalonia. He co-authored with Alejandro Quiroga,The Reinvention of Spain. Nation and Identity since Democracy (OUP, 2007) and published an article ‘¿Es España una nación?’ in Claves de razón práctica, June 2007, n. 73, 30-37. He followed the process of the referendum/Consulta of 2014 in Catalonia and published two articles on the subject for the website of the LSE EUROPP: With uncertainty over independence, Catalonia is set for its most significant National Day demonstration since Spain’s transition to democracy’ and ‘Mariano Rajoy may have forced Artur Mas’ hand over a Catalan independence consultation, but the issue remains far from settled’.

In the last few years, he has been collaborating closely with the Museu d'Història de Barcelona (MUHBA). He co-curated the exhibition Ja Tenim 600 in 2011-12 about Barcelona during the two key decades of the 1950s and 1960s, the central paradigm of which was the contradiction between the project of authoritarian modernisation of the Francoist regime at the end of the 1950s and the economic and socio-political consequences in Barcelona. In 2011, he organised with the Museu the Conference on ‘La SEAT i Barcelona. La Represa sense democràcia1947-1973’. Professor Balfour is at the moment working with the MUHBA in the creation of a new museum of the history of Barcelona over the last 300 years, based in the nineteenth-century factory Oliva Artés, in the Poble Nou district of the city.

In the LSE, he chaired public talks by Jordi Pujol, Artur Mas and Josep-Lluís Carod Rovira.

PujolMay08
Photo taken after public talk by Jordi Pujol, which Prof. Balfour chaired.

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