Understanding Contemporary Spain: Politics, Society, History
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Why are Spaniards currently exhuming mass graves of the Civil War? How can the country tolerate an unemployment rate of 25 percent? Why has Catalan and Basque nationalism dominated politics for decades? Why does a country with a historic reputation for machismo boast such progressive laws on gender and gay marriages? How come political corruption remains so prevalent? This course examines political and social issues relevant to Spaniards today. It begins by discussing recent history in order to contextualize the major themes of the past few decades. It then moves to those subjects that emerged out of the transition to democracy – regionalism, terrorism, and linguistic pluralism – and still account for many of the peculiarities of Spanish politics. The second half of the course analyzes “Spain’s Second Transition” under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero by focusing on immigration, Islamic fundamentalism, foreign policy, gender and family relations, historical memory, political corruption, and the economic crisis. In the very last part of the class, we will analyze the new social movements and the crisis of disaffection towards political life that Spaniards are undergoing today. The course is multi-disciplinary, consisting of a mixture of readings from political science, history, and cultural studies. Each session will consist of a lecture and a class discussion.