Featured weekly article: Building the Spanish Nation: The Centre-Periphery Dialectic

Building the Spanish Nation: The Centre-Periphery Dialectic

By Diego Muro and Alejandro Quiroga

Volume 4, Issue 2, pages 18-37



This paper provides an historical overview of Spain’s nation-building process from the nineteenth century to the present time. Using Stein Rokkan’s centre-periphery paradigm, the paper argues that a pervasive feature in contemporary Spanish history is the dialectical relationship between the Spanish nation and the peripheral nations of Catalonia and the Basque Country. From this perspective, the Spanish nation-building process is understood as one of the main triggering events for the emergence of peripheral nationalisms at the end of the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, tensions between the core and the periphery help to explain why Spain has a quasi-federal institutional structure. Recent interest in ‘constitutional patriotism’ for example, can only be understood in relation to Catalan and Basque initiatives to reform their autonomy status.

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