ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Choosing Nationhood

The Catalonia crisis holds out important lessons for other nation states.

The “nationality question” is largely considered a settled issue in Europe. The fact that it is still a source of intense conflict and violence in the extra-European world, especially in Europe’s erstwhile colonies and semi-colonies, is projected in the international media as proof of its backwardness. Recent developments in Catalonia, in the north-eastern part of Spain, have destroyed this European myth.

In flagrant defiance of the Constitutional Court of Spain and the central government, Catalonia went ahead with a referendum on 1 October 2017 to ascertain whether its people desired separate statehood. This immediately attracted state violence. When large numbers of people still turned up to cast their votes, Spanish police in riot gear was unleashed on peaceful citizens, injuring hundreds. Despite this, the turnout was 42.3%, with 90.9% voting in favour of independence. Yet, there are people in Catalonia opposed to independence who boycotted the referendum. Still, this was a moral victory for Catalan nationalism, while the Spanish state stood exposed by its violence. Shaming the government is the logic behind civil disobedience, which anti-colonial nationalisms have championed in the past. European states will do well to brush up on their own history of imperial demise.

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Updated On : 14th Oct, 2017
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