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Gender, Borders, Memory: Contestation of the Liberal Script in the Catalan Separatist Movement

The project “Gender, Borders, Memory” (GBM) aims to understand the role and influence of gender and memory within border contestations of the liberal script. We seek to examine the extent to which gender and history condition border definitions and border contestations in liberal regimes. The project's main line of research asks: What is the relationship between gender, historical memory, and contestations of the liberal (border) script?

Within this framework, we examine two core questions.

The first will focus on the role of gender and contestation in the recent transition from devolution to separatism. It will ask: How does gender identity and gendered memory impact Catalan national identity formation on the individual level and participation in the Catalan independence movement?

Related to this, the second research focus will provide an analysis of the separatist movement’s entanglement with historical references such as the Spanish-American War of 1898 and the early regional feminist movement. There will be two guiding questions: How does the contemporary separatist movement use historical reference points, including gender norms, activism and imagery, to draw an ideological border between Catalonia and Spain? Does this present a contestation of the liberal script?

The project’s methods are based on interviews, qualitative document analysis as well as political official and non-official statements, and survey experiments. Historical analysis will allow us to generate categories for use in the survey experiments and interviews, which then enable us to assess the spread and rootedness of (nationalist) historical narratives within the Catalan population. In a broader sense, the GBM team will collectively examine and analyze if and how gender and historical memory may help us understand contemporary movements calling for self-determination. This way, we also hope to better understand the gendered dimensions of the liberal border script.