Saturday, August 27, 2011

No sir, I am from Catalonia!


Andreu Cabré
3D Artist, Poet, Farmer, Linguistics Buff, Go player.
Citizens' Voice Series

Before I explain why I've chosen the title No sir, I am from Catalonia! for this article, let me tell you a bit about my background, and where I’m coming from. It’s a longer story than one might think.

I am a Catalan who’s lived in the US for close to twenty years now. I have spent most of my adult life in the United States. I have experienced most of the essential things of life, like marriage, kids, and work, in this country. This experience has changed me to a degree such that I no longer see myself as just Catalan. Even though I am not yet a US citizen, I can’t deny the fact that I have become a bit of an American—rather, a New Englander. I think in ways that are a bit foreign to the Catalan mind. I have become tough-minded and severe like the harsh winters that have shaped me over the years. I appreciate independent thought, resourcefulness and good manners. I relish creativity and no-nonsense attitudes toward life. I have lost some of the freshness, the generosity, and the directness that are so much a part of the Catalan psyche. I have very little left of that old carpe-diem, sweet, Mediterranean attitude that, in my mind, defines Catalans so well. I like to get things done and I don’t like beating around the bush anymore—not that Catalans necessarily do either, mind you.

One of the hardest things of living in a foreign place has always been to not be able to say clearly that I am a Catalan, that I come from Catalonia. For instance, even to this day, in spite of my constant proselytizing about it, some people in my American family are not really clear that I am, simply, Catalan. Not Spanish or from Spain—just Catalan, from Catalonia. I do not go around explaining this at every turn, it would get too tiring. Perhaps I should have changed my name to “Andrew” and be done with it, thus becoming invisible. That way I should not have to start a new evangelization session every time I order a pizza. I hate spelling my name and I hate having to explain myself. I want to be like everybody else: to be recognized as a citizen of a specific nation without having to ask forgiveness or permission for it. Let me be clear again: this nation is not Spain, but Catalonia.

The trouble always begins when someone asks me where I'm from. In most people’s minds, the world is divided clearly into the chunks of different colors you see in a map. These are called countries. Not that many people are ever-aware of the fact that these do not correspond to the nations of the world. Whatever a nation may be, I leave it for others to decide. For me, it is enough that I know deeply inside, in a gut-feeling kind of way, that Catalonia is my nation. A nation without its own state. More specifically, it is a nation that is no longer an independent country, and a nation that is trying to regain its independence.

So, going back to the question Where are you from?, I never know what to say. I know that if I answer I am from Catalonia, people will think I’m making up a new country, perhaps something out of Second Life or EVE Online. Nobody, and I mean nobody has ever heard of Catalonia here where I live. Worse even, if people are interested in knowing more or take me seriously, I will most likely have to explain to great length about Catalonia, and I just don't feel like giving history and geography lessons for free.

On the other hand, I most definitely don't want to say that I am Spanish. That is simply not true, in spite of my passport. I only resort to such answer when I’m either threatened or when I sense trouble not worth getting into.

The other alternative is saying that I am from Barcelona. However, that is a half-assed solution at best. What kind of a dope goes around saying he is from such and such city when people ask him what country he is from? Imagine an American abroad saying they are from Boston when someone asks them what country they are from, but failing to mention that they are from the US. It sounds weird, it sounds like you're stupid.

So this is my constant conundrum. Just the other day it happened again, and I'm getting closer to my title now. My wife and I got picked up by a driver when hitchhiking. We immediately went on talking about where we’re from, and sure enough—lucky me—the guy had been to Barcelona, and Madrid. When it was my turn to say where I’m from, I said, I am from Catalonia. The guy, I think, recognized the name, and said, Oh, so you are from Spain! To which I just mumbled and kind of agreed with, not knowing how to stand up for myself and say: No sir, I am from Catalonia!

I think I was afraid that if I corrected the guy, he would get angry or something and then he would kick us out of his car. I sold my Catalan soul for a lousy car ride. Not the first time something like this has happened, either. I have sold it for peace and quiet, or out of fear. I have done it in order to get a job, and in order to keep it. I have done it to protect my family, and I have done it out of laziness. Selling my Catalan soul leaves me drained, feeling like a prostitute, like someone without a spine or principles. I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I want to be able to say clearly that I am Catalan. I am going to do it. I'll walk the next time.

Andreu Cabré
My blogs:
Everything 3D
Divagacions, poemes i raps
Anglès per catalans

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33 comentaris:

  • Mei says:
    August 27, 2011 at 4:25 AM

    I am Mei, catalana living in the UK for over 10 years now and I could not be more agree with you... the question is: what is the lesson to be learned here? and despite our awareness of what drives our acts in such situations, despite our feelings of betrayal to our souls, identities and to teh history of our people, we will just do it again, as you said, to avoid conflict, for a space of peaceful encounter in our daily lives...

  • Miquel Marzabal Galano says:
    August 27, 2011 at 4:39 AM

    Nearly 20 years in The Netherlands here and it is the same story here. Often, after saying I am Catalan the listener answers: So, you are Spanish. And then I have to say that no, I am not.
    It is very tyring indeed. It is an ongoing slow torture of our identity to have to see each day that Catalonia is not recognized by anyone as nation and that Catalonia is unknown to the majority of the world. Only independence shall bring this situation to an end.
    By the way, Catalonia WAS an independent country. Catalonia was a modern country with a modern government much before most European countries. As such, it was more advanced and it had a structure of a modern state in which being a kingdom was a secondary and less important matter, as the king of Catalonia had to swear he would accept and protect the Catalan government and the Catalan laws. I say this because in your text you say Catalonia is not YET an independent country. That was the situation of Finland in 1916, that had never been an independent country. In the case of Catalonia, we have a structure of a modern state for hundreds of years. It was taken away by the French and Spaniards and it still is. Of course you know that, but in your text it might seem as Catalonia never was an independent country.
    Best regards from Amsterdam (that also was a Spanish province once and after independence achieved its most Glorious times thanks to its FREEDOM).
    Miquel

  • Andreu Cabré says:
    August 27, 2011 at 4:51 AM

    Miquel, thanks for your comment. I agree with what you say about Catalonia having been an independent country in the past already. I think my text leaves it unclear, as you say. If you have any suggestion I'd like to hear it.
    Salut i endavant!

  • Gronxa't says:
    August 27, 2011 at 4:55 AM

    I am with you. I lived in Argentina from 5 to 32 and perfectly understand how you feel.
    Josep Font

  • Anonymous says:
    August 27, 2011 at 6:38 AM

    Sure this is something you've given a lof of thought to! So I take it (at least it seems to me like it) you firmly believe you'll feel partly fulfilled once Catalonia becomes a sovereign country. Think this over: achieving personal satisfaction not by being acknowledged as who you are, but by seen the territory you really feel you truly belong to (skepticism here) being acknowledged? By who? Do you really need a supreme authority to tell you this? How supreme? A God perhaps?
    Everyone needs to be acknowledged by other human beings, it´s one of most ancient human traits. People who share common interests, those being based on political or social issues, on proximity (e.g. neighbourhoods), etc, need that. But what kind of common interest is belonging to a mere concept, the concept of nation? That's primarly the reason why I've never understood independendism. You don't share common interests other than claiming a particular territory, and on top of it different independentists from diff. regions can't stop criticising one another! For God's sake, you're defending the same very concept! And don't get me wrong; I fully support the Palestinian conflict, or the Sahrawi people. They simply don't have a land, they don't have a place to live.
    Believe me, I don't mean to be direspectful or offensive, and I'm well aware the opinion of a non-supporter might not be very welcome, but I just don't understand such passion on a concept -the concept of nation- that in my view is clearly obsolete and belongs to the old, outdated past.

    I can't help remembering Schopenhauer words:
    "[...]The cheapest form of pride however is national pride. For it betrays in the one thus afflicted the lack of individual qualities of which he could be proud, while he would not otherwise reach for what he shares with so many millions."

    J

  • Anonymous says:
    August 27, 2011 at 7:17 AM

    J,

    Your comment is self-contradictory. Fist of all, you say you don't understand independentism but you support the Palestinian and Sahrawi people. Don't you know many Palestinians and Sahrawis want independence? Don't you know that they do have a land, but they don't have a state, which is, by the way, the case for Catalans?

    You seem to believe that the only thing Catalans have in common is some kind of obsession for a territory, you don't realize that what's more important for them is their common language and culture: that's precisely what they share and makes them unique. Not better or worst, they just share a heritage they don't want to loose. And they know that the best way to keep it for the future is having a state for their nation. Recognition? Of course everyone wants to be recognized in their language and culture. Recognized by the rest of the world. That's what independence would mean for them.

    Finally, you may be surprised, but I'm sure that non-sopporters are very welcome here.

    -Toni

  • Enric Molina says:
    August 27, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    I read once in a book of Quim Monzó, that he used to answer something like "I come from Catalonia, a part of Andorra occupied by Spain"

  • Catamunt says:
    August 27, 2011 at 7:37 AM

    For Anonymous (August 27, 2011 6:38 AM). Your words are wise and show that you have a sharp vision. Your comment is not offensive, and I particularly thank you for sharing your thoughts with the world and showing this respect (that others lack) and seaming open to responses that could enrich your opinion in the same way that yours can enrich other readers’ opinions.

    However, think about what Andreu is saying again. He is not asking for special recognition for him or his country, he is not specially passionate about his country either, he just wants to be part of humanity without having to resign his identity, a very rightful identity. Isn’t that something that most human beings have? I don’t think that is something bad in itself, on the contrary, I feel is a right (and in fact is part of the Human Rights) that has to be respected. But thousands of persons in this world still belong to nations and culture that have been left to a second level, if any, as if they didn’t deserve the same recognition and treat as all the other nations and, in consequence, persons.

    I also believe that the concept of nation is obsolete if your loyalty is ultimately towards it only. For me being Catalan is my way of being a human being, and my loyalty and love towards Catalonia comes always after the wellbeing and the loyalty towards humanity as a whole, towards all the peoples and nations. The wellbeing of one nation is the wellbeing of all. The suffering of one nation is the suffering of all, just like the status of any organ affects the whole human body.

    The earth is but one nation, and we all are its citizens. Does it matter that I was born here or there? No, it doesn't; I could have been born elsewhere. But the fact remains: I was born in Catalonia, I have a cultural, linguistic (etc.) heritage that I wish to share with the world and to which I don't want to renounce.

    If just the nations stopped seeing each other as competition and enemies, and rather started working together to build up an ever-advancing civilization... But for this, all of them have to treat each other as equals (as branches of the tree of humanity that have to work together for the tree to bear fruit, the fruit of universal peace and an ever-advancing civilization), be able to decide their own matters and protect their culture, just rights and rightful aspirations, and give up this stupid absolute sovereignty for the sake of the whole of mankind.

    Let me share with you these words from Pau Casals, Nobel nominee, UN Medal of Peace, composer of the Anthem of the UN and musician:

    “We have faith and hope. Faith in the spiritual legacy of our ancestors, a legacy of ancient tradition. We hope that one day the misunderstanding that surrounds us will vanish and that our loyalty to the spirit of our land will not be considered a crime.

    And why are we faithful to our language and our culture? Simply because in order to participate in the concert of free peoples, we need to feel the heartbeats of our soul and of our own voice. Not that we want to isolate or confine ourselves in narrow horizons. On the contrary, we know that the life of the spirit has no borders, that the creative spirit flies from one people to another, drawing from the most heterogeneous elements. The Catalan ‘Renaixença’ has always pursued a sense of universality; to spread to the four winds, open to all influences, wherever their origin, as long as they were positive contributions. However, as Goethe said ‘is only deepening in the particular things that we can reach the generality’“.

  • Andreu Cabré says:
    August 27, 2011 at 7:57 AM

    Dear J,

    Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate discordant or opposite views—and your response is relatively mild at that. It is intriguing to see that such a heart-felt reaction to my personal feelings.

    You say that this is something I've given a lot of thought to, like that's a bad thing. Thinking is never a bad thing, I think you'll agree with this :)

    First, I do not consider myself as a nationalist. I could't care less about Catalonia as a nation. However, that does not mean that I do not feel the effects of Catalonia not being an independent country. One of the consequences is the fact that I, like many other Catalans, am a disenfranchised individual. Officially, I belong to nothing. Nothing will defend me. Spain is not my country. Catalonia is, but Catalonia does not exist. In the past, people have been killed or imprisoned for saying that they are Catalan. It's no joke.

    Second. I don't see the independence of Catalonia as a goal, but as a means to achieve some degree of normalcy for many citizens of Europe, the Catalans. We are second-rate Europeans, that is just plain fact. We are Europe's destitute. Our language is not recognized, our existence is hidden, our culture is stolen from us, we are never recognized by what we are. Try walking in my shoes for a minute and tell me you like that. I take it that you belong to a country. You sit comfortably and do not have to fight for being, say, American. You simply are. How lucky!

    Third, I also agree that the concept of nation is obsolete. How funny that it is considered obsolete only when it threatens the concept of nations like France or Spain. These nations' sacrosanct and violent past, and their aggressive actions against other nations is never put in question.

    Fourth, I would be happy to belong to Spain if I felt that Spain defended my language, my heritage, my own flavor of diversity. It does not. In fact, it attack them with all the means of a modern democracy. In reality, Spain is a monolithic state that does not want to open up and include its own sisters. Where I live, diversity is seen as an asset, not as something you need to get rid of. If, and only if, Spain starts defending Catalan interests, will I decide that I want to be Spanish. Until then, being Catalan will have to do.


    Fifth, It's not about pride. Individual qualities do not exist by themselves. They emerge from a group first. The group was there before a nation existed. A nation or a state cannot explain a way of being and speaking.

    Thanks, and I hope this helps

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    Andreu Cabré says:
    August 27, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Gronxa't says:
    August 27, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    Hi J,

    If you think that Washington, Bolivar, San Martín, Martí, etc. were wrong for fighting for the independence of the American peoples, let's do not talk any more; but if you think they did the right thing, you must be aware that the situation of economic plunder, submission and subjugation suffered by Catalonia since 1714 is comparable with -and nowadays it's perhaps worse than- the one suffered by the Spanish and English colonies in the 18th century.

  • Anonymous says:
    August 27, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    @Toni
    If my opinion sounds contradictory is perhaps because I didn't make myself clear enough. I'm well aware (take my word for it) what Palestinian and Sahrawi people are asking for, and as of today having their own country seems me to me (and to many other people) the sole solution. And that's not the case for Catalonia (in my view, of course).
    Now, "Don't you know that they do have a land, but they don't have a state, which is, by the way, the case for Catalans?"[sic] the case for Catalans is absolutely different than those two we are talking about, and this rhetorical question shows a deep lack of understanding of the situation in any of this places, and probably in all of them. Ask some random Sahrawi and it'll tell you more about "its land" without a nation.

    @Catamunt
    No doubt language and culture are fundamental things as Toni points out. Your words, Catamunt, are very wise sharp too, and along with Andreu's made me realise where our opinions on this particular matter diverge. Very simply, I think it's all about the means it takes to achieve something. But before getting into this in full detail, let mw give you a glimpse of it through your speech.

    According to you, Catamunt, recognition of a nation goes hand in hand with human recognition. This is one of the conclusions I can make out of your words, particularly the 2nd paragraph. Again, as for the concept of nation, I believe this is completely obsolete. There's a paragraph of yours I really liked (and the one that comes right after it too, but it's rather lengthy :o) ):

    "The earth is but one nation, and we all are its citizens. Does it matter that I was born here or there? No, it doesn't; I could have been born elsewhere. But the fact remains: I was born in Catalonia, I have a cultural, linguistic (etc.) heritage that I wish to share with the world and to which I don't want to renounce."

    Then don't! Whether you renounce it or not is entirely up to YOU, and perhaps also to the people around you (that again depends on who you are and what you are like, but I'm not getting into this!), but not to some supranational entity. I've been lucky enough to have been in Barcelona several times, and I have to say I have heard Catalan all over the place and have attended cultural events related to the Catalan folklore in the ourskirts of the city. It seemed to me the culture was present all over (perhaps because I happened to be there during the summer? Dunno...).
    I'm also lucky enough to have a few good Catalan friends. Their arguments when it comes to Catalunya have to do mainly with (a) the concept of nation and, as soon as I bring up what I've tried to explain in the previous post (b) 'the outrageous economical attacks from Madrid/the Spanish government'. I'm paraphrasing a (few) friends here, but I'm sure you know well what I'm referring to.

    Among many, History has taught us one very valuable thing: if we want nations to stop seeing each other as enemies there's only one way to achieve it: from the bottom. Any attempt from building this (in fact anything) up from above has failed, and I could give you a hundred examples. Salvador Allende knew about this full well when, soon before committing suicide, said "History is ours and it is the people who make it ("La historia es nuestra y la hacen los pueblos" in the original Spanish)". He knew all (relevant) social changes in history have come from underneath. If what you are saying is that to achieve human equality, to get to treat each other as equals, Catalonia -or any other region- needs to be acknowledged as a sovereign country I strongly disagree, because that will not come from founding new nations, or from recover old nations that used to be nations.

    J

  • Anonymous says:
    August 27, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    (couldn't post it all on a single post, sorry about such a lenghty one)
    Unlike Andreu (sorry I didn't address to you earlier, I was actually doing it but forgot to wrote your name), I haven't lived anywhere that long, but I do have lived in many different countries over smaller periods of time. Long time ago, I thought I would never be able to find absolute rapport with people from anywhere but nearby the culture&language where I was brought up, and by absolute rapport I mean the level of rapport one considers to be the maximum he/she can achieve. I was (luckily) very wrong. If anything, I've learnt that this has nothing to do with nations, regions or whatever you wanna call them, and that's why I don't seem them a solution to anything. That means is not the means that's going to solve anything, in my opinion.

    By the way, we are all (surely some more than others) disenfranchised individuals. In the EU Spaniards, Greeks, Italians and many others are all second-rate EU citizens. I don't think why you, as Catalan, are more than others. How many other different cultures are there in Spain which are being treated unfairly, and mong them, how many are just ignored because theirs are not associated to a nation?

    Hope I made myself clear.

    J

  • Catamunt says:
    August 28, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    Dear Anonymous J,

    As I said, the concept of nation as absolute sovereign, as the ultimate loyalty, as a division between human beings that are actually members of one common nation that is the world, is obsolete.

    But nations themselves are not obsolete at all. Nations do exist. They exist naturally. It is true that we are all human beings but it is also true that history, languages, costumes, ways of thinking, etc. differentiate the nations and peoples of the world. This is not something bad. Actually, this diversity is, I believe, one of the greatest treasures of humankind, a treasure that we all should work to preserve.

    As this national characteristics exist and as the social context, the needs and the ways of thinking also differ to a certain extent in every nation, it is just natural that these national communities move towards statehood, that is, towards having a political structure that allows them to organize their social lives according to their needs, views and circumstances.

    This also good. The world needs to be territorially organized, somehow, and this structure might as well be the entire set of nations, hopefully federated in a world super-state that regulates the relations between them and cares for the collective wellbeing. In fact, how would you justify a situation in which a large community of people are not allowed to decide about their own matters in freedom?

    Nations do exist because their singular characteristics exist in their communities and these communities are conscious of being so. At this point, the national community is like an individual, in a larger scale, and the rest of nations are the society. It is necessary that they see each other as equal members of humanity and that, at the same time, recognize their individuality and individual characteristics.

    You say: "Whether you renounce it or not is entirely up to YOU, and perhaps also to the people around you (that again depends on who you are and what you are like, but I'm not getting into this!), but not to some supranational entity". I don't think this is about a supranational entity, is about the collective of mankind, about the nations as a society where individuals have to recognize each other in order to share and work together. How does a human being feel when he or she is ignored by the group?

    Nations, as collective entities that do exist, suffer in the same way, and so do their members, when they are forced to life according to the way of thinking and doing of others, in the language of others, an when they lack a voice for themselves in the world.

    When, as Andreu explained, you go to the world to discover that your language does not exist, that your culture does not exist, that part of what makes up your identity is not supposed or allowed to exist, that if you try say "we exist", everyone makes you feel as if you were destroying the peace and the common sense, you are the ultimate egoistical being. The egoism of existing, of being you, and that is a consequence of your nation not being recognized as a normal and equal member of the world, only because, in the past and in the present, nations have fought for supremacy, for power above the other nations.

    Saying that nations shouldn’t exist just because they have infringed so much pain to each other and to their peoples (at least until now) is like saying that human beings should give up their individuality for the sake of the collective.

    Nations do exist (or good luck convincing them that they don’t). Catalonia is a nation. Catalonia has de right to decide about its future and to relate to other nations as equals. Catalans have the right of being human beings that share and don’t hide their cultural characteristics and identity. And this applies for all nations.

    Nations do exist. Or is it obsolete for a group of people to decide to do things the way they think is better for them, as they share some differential characteristics of many kinds?

  • Jordi Vilanova says:
    August 28, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    Andreu; vares felicitar-me per haver-me explicat i escrit particularment bé. Moltes gràcies, però tu ho has superat en sentiment, sense cap dubte.
    Salut!

  • Bayda' says:
    August 29, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    Vaig viure un any a Alemanya i me n'hi torno a l'octubre. Els primers mesos, una de les coses que més em va sorprendre és que ben poca gent sabia què era o on era Catalunya. Quan em sentien parlar em preguntaven: parles italià? parles portuguès? parles espanyol? Però mai: parles català? Molts d'ells no en sabien res de l'existència d'altres llengües, a part de la castellana, a Espanya. És ben trist, però em sembla que només nosaltres podem canviar-ho i amagar-nos o fer-nos invisibles no ens ajuda pas.

  • David Gimeno i Ayuso says:
    August 30, 2011 at 2:29 AM

    I always said I am Catalan or from Catalonia. Obviously, I has always been asked for "what or where Catalonia is." "Between Spain and France", "Do you know Barcelona?", or "North-east of Spain" are my most common answers.

    But the usual answer I give for the forthcoming comment "is it in Spain, then?" is always "yes, it is STILL in Spain". It's a polite clear answer... and you don't need to walk.

  • Johann Werner says:
    September 21, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Im south african. Im the only south african that I know that knows about catalonia. I became aware of it when I visited it in 2005. I tell all my friends about catalonia. So if a catalan came up to me and said he/she was from catalonia I would be like oh I was there in 2005 and had a great time. Anyone on google plus please add me because would love to get your insight. Add me at https://plus.google.com/108371810174792706448/

  • Andreu Cabré says:
    September 25, 2011 at 6:36 AM

    Johann, thanks for your kind words :)

  • Nuri148 says:
    September 29, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    My case is not typical because I was born and raised in Argentina from Catalan parents - through which I was able to obtain Spanish citizenship. So that's what I answer when people ask me whether I'm Spanish: "I am a Spanish citizen" or "I have Spanish citizenship". But if I don't feel like explaining, I can always say simply that I'm Argentinian (which I am and I feel, just as I am and feel Catalan).

  • Andreu Cabré says:
    September 29, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    Nuri, I like that answer very much. Well balanced.

  • Anonymous says:
    October 4, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    I usually travel on my Canadian passport, issued in China where I worked at the time, in which it is clearly stated that I was born in Serbia (even though at the time, Serbia was just a -- say -- Catalonia or Galicia or Euskadi of Yugoslavia. My name is also clearly Southern Slavonic.

    In so doing, I find it ain't very easy dealing with squareheads in monkey style uniforms that are universally employed by agencies established with the sole putpose of causing nuisance to international travellers (especially at airports), I tellya!

    Anyway...

  • Andreu Cabré says:
    October 6, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    I feel your pain...

  • Marga.rita says:
    December 2, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    I am Russian and there are more than 150 different nations living there, more than 100 languages spoken on its lands and at least half of these have their own unique culture.
    There have always been some small internal national conflicts, but most of the Russian ethnic groups have never even thought of independence. And I mean ones that WERE independent for centuries before Russians come to conquer their lands. The reason of our peace and unity is simple: we have lived through centuries of common history. We had passed through wars, through Empire and Communism epochs... And one more important thing.
    In English you say "Russian", in Spanish or Catalan or any other language you say "Russian", meaning nationality. In Russian language we say "Russian" meaning the citizenship. So that's the main difference. Most of my vast country feels and identifies herself as Russian by citizenship. To say Russian by nationality we have another word in our language.
    My mother is from Mordovia, which IS a culture, my grandmother is from Chuvash Republic, which also is a culture, and my uncle is from Tatarstan, a unique place which actually was a Muslim independent state till 16th century.
    I was born in Siberia, and I often say that I am Siberian, because although there is no Siberian language, there IS a culture, and its people are different from those of the European part of Russia.
    But all of us, me and other Russian living abroad that I know, we all say "I am Russian, from there-and-there".
    I always say that I have two motherlands: a big one and a small one, both of them are equally loved and cherished by me. I do feel Russian, and I do feel Siberian. I strongly believe that if any of the ethnic groups would neglect their Russian part, they would lose a lot. Because while a person identifies him or herself with two or more cultures, he or she has a really wide and colorful horizon. We shouldn't take the colors out, two or three colors is always better, I believe.

    p.s. and don't say that Catalans shouldn't seek independence, I just say that they shouldn't neglect the part of the Spanish culture that most of them surely have if they have grown up in Spain.

  • Andreu Cabré says:
    December 30, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    Just a New Year's thought for all those seeking to negate our Catalan-ness: We are JUST Catalans. Nuf said.

  • Anonymous says:
    December 31, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    I also live in the U.S. and I have for the last twelve years. But I grew up in Setcases, not far from Ripoll. Whenever anyone asks me where I'm from, I've gotten really used to just saying Chicago. I found saying I'm from Spain at a party prompted people to say things like olé and ask me about margaritas or something.
    Or even worse "You don't look Mexican to me." or my favorite "Why aren't you tan?" Those are the people I won't even waste my breath on.
    Or explaining that no, my language isn't Spanish, just too tiring to do, especially when many people are very stubborn if they think they know something about Catalonia. Trying to explain either leaves people confused or weirdly super-interested. Actually, it surprises me how some people simply need someone to be foreign to see them as their next latin-lover or some bull.
    Now, if I meet new people, I try not to have that question come up for a while, I always feel so bizarre and like some attention-whore when explaining. Still, I'm always super pleased when someone I meet knows what I'm talking about, or is familiar with anything Catalan. Just a while ago I met someone that knew the toast 'salut i força al canut' I thought it was hilarious! Anyway, I read this post and totally sympathized!
    feliç any nou!

  • Andreu Cabré says:
    January 7, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    Anonymous, totally with you here. It's an uphill battle for sure. Every day. BTW I've been to Setcases. Lovely place :)

  • Alex says:
    February 23, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    As you probably know, if you ever get a chance to go a little bit up north, you'll find an other nation that feels as you do, except on my part, I get those comments in Europe (Germany, Nederlands, Eastern-Europ countries), although I've had quite a few comments from Americans who think I'm an immigrant to North-America because I have an accent when I speak English. And I do answer to "Oh, so you're Canadian" by "No, not exactly, I'm from Quebec".

    I és per això que vaig aprendre a parlar el català i que em vaig interessar a la vostra llengua i cultura ! One of the sole places in Europe where people instantly knew what is Québec, was in Catalonia. And I do wish you will reach sovereignty soon ! La Republica de Catalunya, not a Constitutional Monarchy (exactly what we have here with our British Queen....)

    Visca Catalonia !

  • chixxx says:
    February 24, 2012 at 6:14 AM

    Andreu, your blog describes exactly how I feel after living in England for 14 years... and I count myself lucky as most British people know about Catalonia, our language, our traditions, etc... it must be a real struggle for you in the US. I don't hate Spain, I don't wish any ill to any Spanniard (even though sometimes they almost invite you to hate them), I won't hide the fact that our society is very mixed and influenced by Spanish culture, we share many things but also there are many things that separate us, and not in a negative way... what do I have in common with a Spanniard, let's say, from Caceres Extremadura? do I regard the torture and public extermination of animals a "tradition" or part of my "culture"? NO. Do I feel moved by flamenco? NO, it means nothing to me. Do I think Spain is the best country in the world? NO... however, as I mentioned before I don't hold any grudge against Spain and it's people, we should be good neighbours, trade with each other, enjoy the positive sides of our cultures, just as we should do with any other neighbouring country but... will I ever get a Catalan passport and be able to say my name is Christian and I am Catalan? I hope so, and I hope it's sooner than later, otherwise I will have to become a UK citizen, after all this is where I live now.

  • Andreu Cabré says:
    February 24, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    @Alex: Moltes gràcies pel teu encoratjament, i jo també desitjo un Quebec lliure. Vive le Québec libre! :)

    @chixxx: Funny thing, my sister just became a US citizen. She cried at the ceremony. She confessed to me that she was thinking something like: "At least I get to be American, since I can't be recognized as a Catalan."

  • Rocket Queen says:
    May 5, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    Well, I'm not catalana, i'm from Latinoamerica, but I agree with you, because let me tell you something, I know someone who is from catalanya, i never heard about Catalunya in my whole life, i knew it about Barcelona but Catalunya, nope. When i meet this guy, he said me I'm from Girona, never said Spain... and after this, he told me about "I'm Catalan, not spanish" and really I didn't understand, i have a idea about the "Citizen proud" but I couldn't understand... and I though that it was his business, and that I never could understand when he said "i'm catalan" after this, I started to feel in love with him, so that was the reason why I felt interest in Catalunya, after this I meet with other catalans and I saw that they wanted Catalunya's freedom, and I started to search more information about Catalunya, Catalunya's culture, Catalunya's language... Well, I said that I agree with you, because when I told someone about I was in love with a guy, people ask me where is he from, and I said well he's catalan and people didn't never understand nothing, always I explained to them about Catalunya is not Spain, but was weird the whole thing. Well, I hope that Catalunya become a free country soon!

    Visca Catalunya Lliure!!!
    Visca Catalunya Lliure!

  • Rocket Queen says:
    May 5, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Well, I'm not catalana, i'm from Latinoamerica, but I agree with you, because let me tell you something, I know someone who is from catalanya, i never heard about Catalunya in my whole life, i knew it about Barcelona but Catalunya, nope. When i meet this guy, he said me I'm from Girona, never said Spain... and after this, he told me about "I'm Catalan, not spanish" and really I didn't understand, i have a idea about the "Citizen proud" but I couldn't understand... and I though that it was his business, and that I never could understand when he said "i'm catalan" after this, I started to feel in love with him, so that was the reason why I felt interest in Catalunya, after this I meet with other catalans and I saw that they wanted Catalunya's freedom, and I started to search more information about Catalunya, Catalunya's culture, Catalunya's language... Well, I said that I agree with you, because when I told someone about I was in love with a guy, people ask me where is he from, and I said well he's catalan and people didn't never understand nothing, always I explained to them about Catalunya is not Spain, but was weird the whole thing. Well, I hope that Catalunya become a free country soon!

    Visca Catalunya Lliure!!

  • Andreu Cabré says:
    June 5, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    Rocket Queen, thanks for your kind words!

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