The invisible motherland? The Catalan-speaking minority in Sardinia and Catalan nationalism

Marcel A. Farinelli

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Abstract


L'Alguer (Alghero in Italian, S'Alighera in Sardinian) is a coastal town on the Island of Sardinia. Founded by the powerful Genoese family of the Doria, in 1354 it fell in the hands of the Kingdom of Aragon, as one of the first strongholds in a long war to conquer the whole island. The town was entirely evacuated by its Genoese-Sardinian inhabitants, and repopulated by Catalans settlers. Nowadays its inhabitants speak dialectal forms of Catalan, influenced by Sardinian and Italian, despite the institutional link to the others parts of the Aragonese Crown broke down in the aftermath of the War of Spanish Succession. The existence of this Catalan-speaking community aroused interest and curiosity between intellectuals and politicians, particularly the nationalists, from the Reinaxen until today. Currently l'Alguer is included in the map of the Paos Catalans [Catalan-speaking territories]. Nonetheless, the small town is bereft of a Catalan nationalist movement, only a minority have passed from a folkloric and cultural view to a more political interpretation of the relationship with the linguistic 'homeland'. This paper aims to analyse the reasons of the invisibility of Catalonia as motherland seen (or unseen) from the Mediterranean city.

About the author(s)

Marcel A. Farinelli was born in Alghero, Sardinia. He studied history at the University of Florence, and the University Pompeu Fabra of Barcelona, where in November 2013 he obtained his PhD degree, with a thesis that analyses, in a comparative perspective, the history of Corsica and Sardinia during the last three centuries. In spite of the little distance that divides the two islands, this is an invisible archipelago which has been hidden by many and opposite nationalisms. Those are the Italian and French nationalism, but also Corsican and Sardinian and, even if they are minor, the Catalan and the Spanish. Dr. Farinelli released a book about how the fascist Italian regime worked in the Catalan-speaking Sardinian town of Alghero (El feixisme a l'Alguer, Angle, Barcelona 2010), a history of the same city (Histia de l'Alguer, Llibres de l'dex 2014) and some articles in academic reviews on Sardinian nationalism and otheraspects of the history of the Catalan minority during the Italian nation-building process. He is member of the Research Group on States, Nations and Sovereignties of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and of the International Small Island Studies Association. His personal blog contains more information and a complete lists of publications:marcelfarinelli.blogspot.com