Chatting at the archives

September 7, 2006 at 4:24 pm 2 comments

Today I had an interesting chat with Quino, one of the young archivists at the ACA. It started with my innocent question on when school starts again and ended up in a big discussion on job opportunities (or lack thereof) for young academics in Spain and the fierce rivalry between Valencia and Catalunya.

While Alan would no doubt love it if I got a job here, Quino has confirmed my impressions on the possibilities. Catalan universities had its boom – in terms of enrolment – in the 1970s and 1980s and this led to the hiring of many professors. Now, the number of university students are declining and most of the faculty hired in the boom years are now in their 40s, with lots of years left at work. No new faculty will be needed for the next ten years at least. Plus, academics here tend to be overworked and underpaid. As a friend recently suggested, the best deal is to get a job in North America and spend half the year in Spain doing research.

As for the rivalry between Valencia and Catalunya – Quino is from Valencia – it stems from a certain inferiority complex felt by the former in relation to the latter. This has led some Valencians to adopt an alternative view of its history and culture. One example is the creation of a Valencian language. Some people, in their effort to stress the difference between their homeland and Catalunya, maintain that the language they speak is “valenciano”, which has nothing to do with Catalan. This is like suggesting that the language spoken in Brazil has nothing to do with Portuguese. Or that the Castilian spoken in Chile and Spain are intrinsically different. It all reminded me a lot of the feelings of hostility I encountered in the north-east of Brazil (Recife) for the wealthier south (Rio, Sao Paulo, etc).

It seems to me that the more you travel the world, the more you realize how similar we all are…

Entry filed under: Brazil, Life in Spain.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dana  |  September 7, 2006 at 9:21 pm

    When I was living in Valencia, many of the people I met also stressed to me that valenciano was an entirely different language from Catalan. Valencians are fiercely nationalistic, and around the city of Valencia, you can see various signs demonstrating Valencia’s desire to be recognized as its own distinct culture apart from Catalunya.
    I hope to do a longer research trip to Barcelona some time so that I can see for myself how different or similar they are to one another. Their histories are so inter-twined, I found it really interesting how Valencians have such a strong need to appear as distinct and different. Although if I really think about it, perhaps it’s quite normal to do so.

  • 2. guerson  |  September 7, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    Yes, it is interesting. Quino was saying that it all stems from this feeling of inferiority that leads them to try to stress their distinctiveness to the point of rewriting history and erasing past connections. He also said the antagonism is more from the part of the Valencians than the Catalans. And that’s what reminded me so much of Recife, in Brazil. Although a large city and one of the first regions of the country to be developed, Recife and the northeastern region of Brazil was eclipsed by the southeastern region that encompasses Sao Paulo and Rio. While the rest of Brazil knows that the northeast is poorer and there may be the odd person that looks down upon “nordestinos”, most actually go there for their summer vacations. Yet, in Recife I was surprised to find that most people were very hostile and defensive against people from the south. They seemed to think that all we did was say bad things about them and look down upon them. Sometimes I felt like saying that we didn’t really talk about them at all… And maybe that is a bit like how the Catalans see the Valencians – they sort of know they are connected but they don’t really bother with them but yet the Valencians feel the Catalans look down upon them – a feeling which is really based on their own inferiority complex. Which we both know to be unfounded since Valencia is a very rich society and culture. But they do speak the same language…


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