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133 Chapter 4 The Persistence of Myth: Post-​Dictatorial Andalusia After General Franco’s death in November 1975, Spanishness needed redefining . Almost forty years of close association with an authoritarian regime had damaged it considerably—­ beyond repair, some felt. Francoists had used the notion of an unbreakable Spain to defend themselves against internal and external enemies. After the dictatorship’s demise and the transition to democracy, the country shattered into the seventeen autonomous communities under a single political nation created by the Constitution of 1978. This new territorial arrangement abolished Franco’s crushing centralism but perpetuated its basic protocols of identity formation. Old government structures disappeared, but habits of thought remained. The constitution divided the autonomous communities into two groups. Catalonia, the Basque Country, and Galicia, the “historical nationalities” which had their own languages and home-​ rule status granted prior to the Civil War, were put on a fast track to self-​ government. They needed only to notify Madrid before they established their own parliaments and supreme courts. The other fourteen autonomous communities could take this route if more than half the votes in a regional referendum endorsed it. With this distinction , the constitution implicitly acknowledged that the transfer of power to the regions was based on historic rights and language and cultural differences . The race for autonomy quickly turned into a search for distinct historical identities, which were scaled-​ down versions of Francoist patriotism . Anthems, shields, and flags began to crop up from every corner of the peninsula in support of the newly useful local pride. Andalusia,the only region that joined the fast-​track path to self-​government, was under great pressure to justify its distinct status. Its referendum, held on February 28, 1980, overwhelmingly endorsed autonomy, but few people had any clear idea of what “Andalusian nationality” was, so historians, linguists, and anthropologists readily concocted it. If Catalans, Basques, and Galicians exercised their vernaculars in classrooms and public spaces, Andalusians celebrated their own phonetic idiosyncrasies, often grasping at linguistic straws 134 Chapter 4 and proclaiming the Arabic origin of their accent, stopping just short of declaring the existence of an Andalusian language. Similarly, if Catalan, Basque, and Galician children were tested on their region’s past, their Andalusian counterparts had to take a History of Andalusia course in high school, an artificial editing of Spanish history. The backbone of the new andalucismo was the notion of hechos diferenciales, or“differentiating facts,”the term used by competing nationalisms to jockey for increased autonomy within the Spanish state.1 An hecho is a given; it is not subject to debate or interpretation or change, and it paves over contradictions and dissent. Like all the autonomic nationalisms, andalucismo submitted to the same monolithic rhetoric it wished to challenge. The Catalan philosopher Xavier Rubert de Ventós criticized this new paradigm , branding post-​ dictatorial Spain “the country of forms” or a “formal democracy,” where modes of address are more important than the messages they deliver.2 The paradigm emphasizes chauvinistic differences among the new political actors rather than the real needs of the communities they represent . The new semi-​ independent regions emptied the national myth of its conservative content but kept its form. According to Roland Barthes, “myth is not defined by the object of its message, but by the way in which it utters the message: there are formal limits to myth, there are no ‘substantial’ ones.”3 Myths place complex reality and human acts in a closed system of unquestionable beliefs. Things and events acquire the “simplicity of essences” and become facts, or hechos, whose meaning goes without saying. Myth is “depoliticized speech,” Barthes concludes; it freezes social relations rather than describing or trying to change them.4 Rubert de Ventós sees autonomic nationalisms hardening into myths, promoting museum-​ exhibit identities (or hechos diferenciales) fixed in glass cases with explanatory cards, and arresting impulses to interrogate the old apparatus’s institutions and its economic policies . Myth is the price for choosing reform over revolution, the tax exacted for integration in the global capitalist market. With the transition to democracy, models of collectivity based on class eroded. With memories of the violence and trauma of the Civil War and dictatorship , talk of social justice and wealth redistribution disappeared from political discourse in Spain. Wary of messages that could reopen old wounds and obliterate pacts and agreements between the old Francoist leadership and the new political elite, peripheral nationalisms merely mirrored the status quo mandated by the 1978 constitution. In...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780810137318
Related ISBN
9780810137301
MARC Record
OCLC
1039691376
Pages
248
Launched on MUSE
2018-06-13
Language
English
Open Access
No
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