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The transition(s) to democracy and discourses of memory

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This article examines the tension between two competing interpretations of the transition to democracy in the Spanish State. It will investigate the strategies used by the ‘official’ discourse, as expressed in El País, aiming to achieve a closure with the past along the lines of an epic, and thus to legitimize the present status quo. It will also look into the ‘divergent’ interpretation of the Catalan daily Avui for which there are two different transitions to democracy: the one already completed by Catalonia even before the death of Franco and the other carried out by the rest of Spain, which has not been completed as yet. Through its use of a ‘reality’ discourse Avui aims at (1) downplaying the ‘mythical’ passage to democracy of the official discourse; and (2) reinforcing the Catalan ‘historical memory’ which demands a recognition of the role of Catalans in the process of democratization in Spain and their long-standing democratic credentials which other Spaniards are constructed as still lacking.

Keywords: Spanish transition; discourse; media; memory; myth; narrative

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Paisley

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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  • The International Journal of Iberian Studies (IJIS) is the academic journal for scholars from around the world whose research focuses on contemporary Spain and Portugal from a range of disciplinary perspectives. IJIS is interested in history (20th century onwards), government and politics; foreign policy and international relations.
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