In the name of the nation? The National Award in Narrative Literature, and the democratization of art in Spain (1977–2013)
(2015) Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, 17 p. Article in Press.
This article looks at the history of the National Award in Narrative Literature (El Premio Nacional de Literatura, Modalidad Narrativa) – a governmental prize issued by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports – to examine how the award has contributed to the formation of a particular idea of Spanish literature in the democratic period (1977–2013). On the one hand, drawing from the theories of Rancière and Foucault, I argue that the conferring of the prize represents a specific technique of power that has allowed the Spanish state to attach itself to individual citizens/artists of diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds and to appropriate their works as “national.” In so doing, I claim that the issuing of the National Award has served the state well in its attempts throughout the democratic period to market Spain as a multicultural, yet cohesive nation state. On the other hand, I discuss how the issuing of the National Award also serves as a platform from which to discuss a wide variety of social issues, paradoxically including ideas that challenge the state’s legitimacy.
Alfredo Conde; Bernardo Atxaga; biopolitics; Javier Marías; literary prizes; nationalism