What the women have to say
: women’s perspectives on language, identity and nation in Catalonia

  • Mandie Iveson

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The social and political history of Catalonia has long been dominated by debates about language, nation and identity and forty years of linguistic and cultural repression have impacted the sociocultural landscape of the region. The new millennium and new nationalist/gendered identities in the context of changing patterns of migration, growing multiculturalism and economic crisis have led to a resurgence of nationalism and renewed demands for Catalan independence since 2010. Adopting oral history as a central method, this thesis examines language, nation and identity from a gendered perspective and investigates to what extent women use Catalan in their everyday social practices to construct gendered and national identities.
    The focus of the study is three female 'generations' from one Catalan village. It covers 50 years of historical change from the 1960s to the present. The thesis explores women’s contribution to the preservation of Catalan language during Franco's regime (1939-75); how the emergence of a feminist movement and discourse, and changing patterns of migration, have transformed the relationship between gender and national identity in Catalonia; and the role that Catalan plays today in defining women's (individual) identities and as a nation-building tool. Previous research has not considered an intergenerational approach and this study addresses this gap.
    Drawing on theories of nationalism, gender and nation and language ideologies, I adopt a new analytical approach incorporating discourse analysis and small story research to examine the narratives of 40 oral history interviews and a corpus of social media data. In order to organise the diverse themes in my data I develop a spatial framework in which I identify three principal spaces: physical, ideological and temporal.
    Mainstream and political discourse exemplify the Catalan nation as civic, intercultural and tolerant. This study challenges these canonical beliefs. The findings reveal ethnolinguistic ideologies and a complex divergence/ convergence of issues surrounding migration that are difficult to reconcile with official discourse. Specifically the findings provide insights into some of the issues of inclusion and exclusion that are absent in political and nationalist discourse and suggests that an increased understanding of cultural pluralism at a local level can be abstracted to the Catalan community as a whole
    Date of Award12 Apr 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorAnnabelle Mooney (Supervisor), Maria Elvira Anton-Carrillo (Supervisor) & Carrie Hamilton (Supervisor)


    • Catalonia, language, gender, oral history, discourse analysis, national identity, nationalism

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