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Negotiating Spain: The shifting boundaries between 'nation', 'nationality' and 'region'.

Negotiating Spain: The shifting boundaries between 'nation', 'nationality' and 'region'.. (NegociatingSpain)

NEGOTIATINGSPAIN, a Marie Curie Intra-European project under the European Seventh Framework Programme, focuses on the actual negotiation of shifting political boundaries. The case is the negotiation between the Spanish nation-state and the substateregional level since 1979. These processes are not unique to Spain; other European countries as Belgium and Great Britain also witness processes of shifting legitimacy and sovereignty between state and regional level. The probability of one of these processes ending with the independence of one of its regions is significantly higher now than it was as just a few years back. These processes therefore carry a high potential for instability and can possibly have wide-ranging effects not just on the country in question but also on the European Union as a whole.



Universidad Pablo de Olavide

It is the central object of this project to investigate how the shifting political boundary between the Spanish nation-state and the sub-state regional level was, and is, actually negotiated. How was the increased legitimacy of particularly certain regional discourses exchanged for increased competences and recognition of the identity? How have the national parties - both left- and rightwing - defined and defended the Spanish nation and the Spanish state? How did the principal political actors negotiate the meaning of central terms like nation, nationality and region? How did the main parties involved relate to the tension between symmetry and asymmetry intrinsic to the Spanish case? Were there any discernible differences of discourse and/or political practice between the national level and the regional levels of the national parties? Were the EU, other countries or regions instrumentalised by the political parties, and if so, how and to what extent? The central objective can be expanded to include an ambition beyond the Spanish case: to understand these processes that shift legitimacy from one level to another often with consequences for the distribution of sovereignty focusing on their comparability with other similar cases.

  • Analyse the discourse on the Spanish nation and its regions and nationalities of each party with parliamentary representation.
  • Determine the evolution over time of the discourse of each political party keeping in mind the different models of territorial organisation of the parties in Spain.
  • Investigate internal differences, inconsistencies and contradictions in the discourse of each party and determine whether they mark a pattern of differences.
  • Guarantee the cross-European comparability and relevance arriving at general inferences regarding the processes of shifting legitimacy and sovereignty between state and regional level.
  • Develop a fully comparative project that can be used to apply for funding from national and international funding agencies.




The realisation of the proposed project will cement the researcher's status as the leading Danish expert on contemporary Spanish society and it will improve his standing as one of the leading international experts on:

  • the refashioning of the discourse on the Spanish nation after the death of Franco
  • how the balances between the Spanish nation, the other nations on Spanish territory and the Spanish regions were actually negotiated
  • how these balances have changed over time and how these changes were negotiated

The project is concerned principally with understanding the Spanish case, but intends to build as many comparative links as possible to all other relevant European cases, both similar and dissimilar. A fully comparative project-design is part of the project and will afterwards be used to apply for funding.


Code PAIDI: SEJ474

Antonia Mª Ruíz Jiménez.  

Universidad Pablo de Olavide

Budget of Andalusian group: € 230,036.60

Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Spain)

The project will be developed by the postdoctoral researcher Carsten Jacob Humlebæk, under the supervision of Prof. Antonia Mª Ruiz Jiménez.

Keywords: Political systems, shifting legitimacy, governance, self-government, independence movements
Duration: 24 months. 1 September al 31 August 2014
Project cost: € 230,036.60