In the decades surrounding the turn of the twenty-first century, few brands across the globe gained more recognition than that of FC Barcelona. During this period, the club engaged in two mission that were seemingly at odds with one another. The first was to globalize the club’s reach and expand into international markets. The second was to retain its historic nationalist significance. This paper explores how the club negotiated the tensions between these two missions in the 1990s and 2000s, and in doing so, fostered a connection between Catalonia and international publics that had not existed before, all to the benefit of the region’s nationalist movement. After varied attempts at profiting from engaging with international audience, this eventually took the form of a brand-consumer relationship. In negotiating this expansion, club leaders and various interested actors not only turned FC Barcelona into a consumable product, but also rendered international fans as consumers. By providing a narrative account of this development, I show how nationalist institutions and symbols are not neutralized by global processes, but can adapt to and ensconce themselves in international networks all while furthering their nationalist purpose.
Max Ferrer’s PhD research at King’s College London focuses on the intersection between nationalism and globalization in the region of Catalonia since Spain’s return to democracy in 1978. Organized around various case studies, including mass tourism, elite sport, and higher education, this dissertation examines the evolution of Catalonia’s nationalist movement, which was strengthened and defined by the global era. In doing so, it attempts to situate the role of culture in promoting an image of the region as a distinct political entity and evaluating culture’s role as a mediator between globalization and nationalism.
Prior to his PhD research, he completed an MA at Columbia University’s European Institute, where his thesis won the Institute’s Distinction Award and led to a chapter in Routledge’s European Integration and Disintegration: Essays from the Next Generation of Europe's Thinkers.
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