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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Reimaginig National Identity in Spain in Different Contemporary Narratives

  • Author(s): Flores-Paez, Lucero
  • Advisor(s): Herzberger, David K
  • et al.

The current study examines the multiple and contradictory representations or formulations of Spanish identity in a selection of contemporary novels, films, and plays, from the 1990s to the present, that explore concerns and questions about the status of Spain as a nation and its national identity. Some of the works analyzed here show the (re) construction of the national identity through a negotiation with the past. In other words, how nations are established upon a rich legacy of memories, past glories and sacrifices, heroes and epics, as well as many things that are forgotten. Also, the new challenges to the national identity in Spain, including recent issues related to immigration, are explored.

The novels Huesos de Sodoma (2004) by Luis Antonio de Villena and Cosmofobia (2007) by Lucía Etxebarria are analyzed from the perspective of the (re) construction of the nation and the different voices coming to that (re ) construction. These authors focus on specific groups, such as; the gay community in the novel Huesos de Sodoma, and Lavapiés, a community in Madrid, in the novel Cosmofobia. Each space shows us an idea and appreciation of the nation, either through the early construction of the nation, or the analysis of a multicultural and multiethnic nation in which we live. The films Las cartas de Alou (1990), by Montxo Armendáriz, and Saïd (1998), by Lorrenç Soler, open a space for the representation of immigrants. However, both authors provide an excuse to show the silenced aspect of the experiences lived by these new members of the nation when they come across a new different culture. Because of globalization and internationalization of the economic development, modern states are in the process of permanent change. The number of illegal immigrants grows and at the same time grows both racism and xenophobia. Thus, the dramatic plays Cachorros de negro mirar (1995), by Paloma Pedrero, and Salvajes, by José Luis Alonso de Santos, highlight aspects of immigration and racism in Spain in the early twentieth century. In the words of the characters, we realize their behaviors are based on residual configurations and distant past. In synthesis, I consider that it is possible to capture the meaning of a nation and its identity through the images that it projects and the fictions that it constructs.

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