Sept. 20, 2016 | A New Farewell to Spain? Catalonia, the Spanish Crisis, and the Echoes of 1898 | Josep Maria Muñoz

Josep Maria Muñoz (Fall 2016 King Juan Carlos Chair in Spanish Culture and Civilization; Historian, Director of L’Avenç magazine)

“In Spain today, one hears old lamentations about new crises. The lasting impact of the 2008 financial crisis and its social consequences have produced a persistent new pessimism, one that has overshadowed the decades of economic growth and social welfare that Spain achieved with a democratic government and integration into the European Union. Catalonia is a crucial element in the current Spanish crisis. From 2010 on, a large, democratic, inclusive movement in favor of the independence of Catalonia has gained a previously unseen (and unforeseen) strength. The words “Farewell, Spain” that poet Joan Maragall wrote in 1898 are now pronounced again, with a new political intention.

“Contemporary discourse around Catalonia, and the dream or spectre of its autonomy, however, is not a new movement nor merely a response to the recent national crisis. The “Catalan problem” is rooted in the Spanish political upheavals of 1898, when, amid the collapse of Spanish imperialism, the Catalan cultural renaissance became a national political movement. Since then, political Catalanism has been a fundamental element in the configuration of democracy in Spain. Amid the narratives and the pessimism, disagreements over the past persist, and echoes of the 1898 return to trouble the present.”


Josep M. Muñoz is the Fall 2016 King Juan Carlos Chair in Spanish Culture and Civilization and will be in residence at KJCC. Muñoz is a historian and the director of Catalan monthly magazine L’Avenç and the related publishing house. He received his Ph.D. in History from the Universitat de Barcelona. He has paid a long attention to the figure and work of historian Jaume Vicens Vives, including his awarded book Jaume Vicens Vives (1910-1960). Una biografia intel.lectual (1997), and other exhibitions and publications on the occasion of the centenary of Vicens Vives’ birth, in 2010. His professional career was previously developed in the Barcelona Mayor’s Office, coinciding with the 1992 Olympic Games, and the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA). In the past fifteen years, he has helped to place L’Avenç as a leading cultural publication. His latest book Temps present, temps passat (2016) gathers a selection of his celebrated interviews in L’Avenç