Chapter

An identity in search of a purpose

José Álvarez-Junco

in Spanish Identity in the Age of Nations

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780719075797
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701737 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719075797.003.0009
An identity in search of a purpose

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Eric Hobsbawm regards nineteenth-century European nationalism as defined by two political programmes: a liberal revolution in the first half and imperial expansion by the State in the second. If we accept this simplistic but ultimately defensible interpretation, Spanish nationalism at the end of the century had failed on both counts. As regards internal political reform, the liberal revolution had stalled, while in external terms the remains of the colonial empire were about to be lost. Spanish pride in the nineteenth century centred on independence, an objective that had been realised early on, and that this resulted in a ‘retrospective’ and self-satisfied nationalism that lacked a ‘creative imagination with regard to the future’. Why, therefore, make an effort at nation-building? What purpose or political programme could be served by nationalist rhetoric? If Spanish nationalism aimed to survive, it had to invent a raison d' ê tre for itself, and the issue is tackled in this chapter.

Keywords: Spanish nationalism; Spain; nation-building; liberal revolution; imperial expansion

Chapter.  13004 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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