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On the rampant cultural fraud committed in so many Catalan coastal resorts.


Given time, most of us get used to the fact that there are whole swathes of coastal Catalonia which tourists can visit safe in the knowledge that not a single bacillus of the surrounding culture stands a chance of penetrating the contrived vacuum in which they willingly while away their holidays. So it is that in places like Santa Susanna or Platja d'Aro you can walk yourself weary trying to find a local newspaper, say, or a plate of esqueixada (but can pick up a horned bottle of sangría or a plastic flamenco dancer in the twinkling of an eye).
It was in Santa Susanna, in fact, that I spent last weekend, and was surprised to stumble across a general store that was atypical for the area, being upmarket and tat-free and clearly aimed at what a snob would call the discerning customer. Curious to see if they also sold a different class of souvenir here, I soon discovered that - like everywhere else – all the available mementoes were emblazoned with the word 'España' and the visual clichés that tend to accompany it. True, these relatively costly items had 'original' designs: for instance, Osbourne-type bulls covered in Gaudí-style mosaic. But that didn't change the fact that anything that so much as reeked of Catalanness had been carefully camouflaged, even if it meant mating a non-Spanish-speaking Catalan architect with Spain's national beast. What price the numerous public initiatives to promote Catalonia abroad if even in the 'smart' souvenir shops along the Catalan coast, tourists are still being fed the old fascist lie that Spain is all one and the same, from Santa Susanna to San Sebastián? The shopkeepers themselves, of course, justify such cultural perjury by claiming that foreign visitors are oblivious to the reality of Catalonia, conveniently forgetting that reality, to paraphrase a sage phrase, begins at home.

- Textos i contingut: Matthew Tree - Disseny i programació: Nac -