Date of Award

3-30-2011

Embargo Period

5-11-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Advisor(s)

Richard Maddox

Second Advisor

Paul Eiss

Third Advisor

Lee Vinsel

Abstract

This dissertation focuses on the cultural and linguistic politics surrounding the substate
nationalist movements that arose in Spain during the late twentieth century. In
particular, it analyzes the curious case of Asturias and the frustrated history of the nationalist
movement there, which contrasts with the relative success of regionalist and nationalist
political parties in neighboring regions. While Catalunya, Euskadi, Galicia, and even
Andalucía rapidly turned cultural revival movements into concrete political gains, taking
advantage of the new constitutional structure put in place after 1978, Asturias is especially
interesting because of its failure to do so.
The resurgence of regionalist sentiment during the Transition (~1975-1982) provides
an interesting example of the complex struggle between various groups vying for political and
cultural hegemony during an extremely fluid period. Along with other groups opposed to
the Franco regime, the coalescing Asturianista movement attempted to carve out a political
space in the region and within the structure of the reformed Spanish State. The new Statute
of Autonomy, the establishment of the state-funded Asturian Language Academy, the
introduction of Asturian language classes in schools, and the explicit legal protection for the
language were all regionalist advances unthinkable without the political activism of the
Asturianistas.
However, the Asturian case indicates that a separate language, while often a critical
component of nationalist programs, is not in itself sufficient fuel for a long-term political
project. While the nationalist movement managed to insert some elements of its linguistic
and cultural program into the 1981 Autonomy Statute and its 1999 revision, the Asturian
nationalists were effectively managed through a strategy of simultaneous absorption and
marginalization. The ruling parties incorporated some of the Asturianista movement’s
membership and granted limited concessions to their program while simultaneously
systematically frustrating any attempt to enact significant change. The Asturianistas never
expanded upon their periodic success at mobilizing the population around a linguistic and
cultural revival into a sustainable political program. This led to frustration and
fragmentation within the nationalist movement, weakening its ability to influence the major
parties and making it much easier for the Socialist Party to marginalize nationalist groups
and maintain its dominant position.

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