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The Reinvention of Spain: nation and identity since democracy

Sebastian Balfour|, Alejandro Quiroga
Oxford University Press (4 October 2007)

Unravelling the debate about the Spanish nation and its identity in the new democracy, this book looks at the issue as both a historical debate and a contemporary political problem, particularly complex due to the legacy of the Francoist Dictatorship which deeply eroded the legitimacy of Spanish nationalism. During and since the transition Spanish nationalist discourse has evolved to meet the challenge of new concepts of nation and identity. These formulations argue very different configurations of the relationship between nation and state. While the Constitution of 1978 defines Spain as a nation of nationalities, many politicians and intellectuals now claim that Spain is a nation of nations, others that it is a nation of nations and regions, or a post-traditional nation state, or post-national state. For the peripheral nationalists, it is merely a state of nations and regions. What is at issue is not whether Spain exists or not as a nation; rather, it is the traditional ways of seeing Spain from both the centre and the periphery that are being challenged.

The Reinvention of Spain examines the ways in which Spanish and regional identities are projected and how influence the external actions of the Spanish state. It also analyses the dynamic of comparative grievance and competition between regions deriving from the peculiar architecture of the state in Spain, and their effect on social and political cohesion. Finally, it examines scenarios of change that might foster solutions but asserts that Spain will continue to reinvent itself.

  • Sebastian Balfour is emeritus professor of government at LSE
  • Alejandro Quiroga is a lecturer in Spanish and European history at the University of Newcastle

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