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SPAIN: History Textbooks

Our main concern in discussing history textbooks is to avoid their use for nationalistic propaganda against anther country. In Spain the problem is internal, with the Ministry of Education and the Royal Academy of History in Madrid expressing concern that the regional "autonomies" are downgrading and degrading national history.

John Wonder has forwarded the text of the Academy's formal statement of June, 2000, in which anger is hidden under an academic veneer. It recalls that the Academy's 1738 founding decree instructed it to unmask the historical follies resulting from ignorance and malice. (During the Enlightenment, the Spanish Bourbons wished to banish the legacy of the Hapsburgs). The statement spoke of the newspaper articles and letters which showed the widespread concern on the subject. It regretted that, when discussing it in congress, regional speakers had spoken with unreasoning passion.

The concern was made acute by the continued killings by ETA. It would be interesting to find out how far these young terrorists have been influenced by nationalist history textbooks, possibly written in Basque. The statement claimed to have the cooperation of a Barcelona historian, but Catalonia was another concern. I can testify to the problem, having studied Catalan history in Barcelona in 1934 under Antonio Rovira y Virgili (1882-1949), who preached a fiery Catalan nationalism. I wonder what happened to him under Franco. My guess is that he went into exile.

Ronald Hilton - 8/30/00