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Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Attempts to overturn orthodox accounts of national identity fall back on other kinds of exceptionalism. Even refutations of exceptionalism often do so (if the orthodox version of history is exceptionalist, the refutation will typically be exceptionalist).

Refutations of exceptionality that emphasize "normality" can be even more noxious, however. You can't escape exceptionalist discourse simply by saying Spain is a "normal" country like any other. It may be the case that it is "normal" in the way that every other culture is, that is, based on contradiction and anomaly. But so is Italy or Norway.


Anonymous said...

England and France, are they the normal countries, then?

Jonathan said...

Right. Spain does not have systematic philosophy like Germany. It did not have enlightenment. A normal country now would be the Netherlands, I guess. Or Belgium where they speakers of different languages don't even see themselves as part of the same nation. According to this weird logic. Caro Baroja says that there were always stereotypes of the Spaniard going back to the renaissance, but that the stereotype shifted from religious fanaticism to religious fanaticism + decadence and passivity. Then to a kind of barbarousness, with some religious fanaticism.

Anonymous said...

Caro Baroja makes Germany more normal than Spain? Just because of Kultur?


Jonathan said...

No. I am talking more generally about what the discourse is. Caro Baroja is more skeptical, debunking these discourses rather than sustaining them. I guess the point is that if the stereotype changes so much, it cannot be an eternal prehistoric essence, Unamuno style.