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On giving a talk in London on anti-Catalan prejudice.


Last Guy Fawke's Night, before an audience of about 45 people - in a mildly stuffy room, booklined and whitewashed, belonging to the Spanish department of the London School of Economics - I read out a 50 minute lecture on 'Anti-Catalan Prejudice in Spain Today'. It began with some recent true stories of Catalans being refused service, insulted or threatened with violence when at large in non-Catalan Spain; it then gave as potted a version as possible of relevant Catalan history, including the forced incorporation into the fledgling Spanish state in 1714, the two 20th century fascist dictatorships and the current miring of the Statute of Autonomy; it listed some of the 150-odd decrees designed to eliminate the Catalan language over the last two centuries; it broke anti-Catalan prejudice down into its three major clichés: the Catalans are treacherous separatists, persecutors of Castilian, and money-grabbing I'm-all-right-Jacks; finally, it charted the origins of such mis-preconceptions from the late 18th century – when they first appear - through to the present. (The full text is available at: The audience reaction ranged from surprise to critical curiosity, but never strayed beyond the bounds of the rational. Afterwards, however, I was buttonholed by a middle-aged to elderly Spaniard who had kept mum during the Q&A. 'I LOVE Catalonia,' he spluttered (in perfect English), cheeks a-tremble and eyes aflame, 'I LOVE Catalan culture.' He jabbed my chest. 'But it must be SHARED with all Spain. The Catalans want to keep it for THEMSELVES!' Another jab. 'YOU are an EXTREMIST, like some of THEM!' It was as if the very title of the lecture - 'Anti-Catalan Prejudice in Spain Today' - had materialised before me, ectoplasm-like. Albeit in its most liberal, generous, open-minded form.

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