Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Bull fights: cultural clash in Catalonia

Catalonia's ban on bullfighting has been overturned by the Spanish courts Catalonia's ban on bullfighting has been overturned by the Spanish courts Naturesports
28 Nov
2016
A Spanish cultural divide has been ripped open by the overturning of Catalonia’s bullfighting ban

Back in July 2010, animal rights activists in Catalonia were celebrating a significantly symbolic legal victory. Bullfighting had just been outlawed by the Catalan parliament, following the submission of a 180,000-signature petition. A year later, 20,000 spectators crammed into Barcelona’s La Monumental – the one remaining Catalan bullring – as it hosted its last ever fight before being closed and converted into a bullfighting museum. It was a bold declaration of autonomy and self-governance for the aspiring independent state (it became the second Spanish autonomous community to ban the practice, after the Canary Islands in 1991). Meanwhile, much of the rest of Spain, where bullfighting remains popular, mourned Catalonia’s ‘ignorant and culturally insensitive rejection’ of a ‘proud Spanish tradition’.

Bullfighting is rejected because it is associated with an old-fashioned vision of Spain

However, the tables were turned last month when Spain’s Constitutional Court declared the Catalan ban to be in violation of a national law protecting bullfighting as an essential part of Spain’s cultural heritage, thereby deeming the ban illegal. The response in Catalonia has been one of defiance, with hundreds of protestors marching in the streets of Barcelona, and condemnation by local Catalan politicians. ‘There’ll be no bullfights in Catalonia, regardless of what the Constitutional Court says,’ responded Josep Rulls, Catalan Land Minister.

‘Bullfighting is rejected because it is associated with an old-fashioned vision of Spain,’ explains Dr Andrew Dowling, Senior Lecturer in Catalan and Spanish History at Cardiff University. He points out that correbous (bull runs) still take place in Catalonia with, as he terms it, equally ‘insensitive treatment of animals. There is an ever greater psychological and cultural process of distancing underway [in Catalonia] from that which is seen as “Spanish”. Secondary are the ethical and moral arguments about bullfighting.’

This was published in the December 2016 edition of Geographical magazine.

Related items

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

LATEST HEADLINES

Subscribe to Geographical!

Adventure Canada

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Hung out to dry
    Wetlands are vital storehouses of biodiversity and important bulwarks against the effects of climate change, while also providing livelihoods for mill...
    When the wind blows
    With 1,200 wind turbines due to be built in the UK this year, Mark Rowe explores the continuing controversy surrounding wind power and discusses the e...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PEOPLE...

Explorers

The biological wonders of Mozambique’s mountains have only recently been…

I’m a Geographer

Lloyd Figgins is founder of LFL Global Risk Mitigation consultancy,…

Development

From plastic-eating enzymes and oil-sucking polymers to ‘deep learning’ robots…

Explorers

Children on the summit of Aconcagua are a rare sight.…

Explorers

A pioneering expedition in 2019 will search for the lost…

Explorers

In this exclusive extract from his newest book, founder and…

Cultures

Growing demands for dairy products from an increasingly wealthy China…

Cultures

Diamonds are perhaps the least modest of all jewels. But,…

I’m a Geographer

Kristy Leissle is a scholar of the global cocoa and chocolate…

Explorers

The southwest corner of Western Australia is bursting with unique…

Cultures

Influencing international peace through street art

Explorers

Mountain biking through mountainous Lesotho, Dan Milner found stunning landscapes,…

Refugees

New Zealand becomes the first country to propose humanitarian visas…

Explorers

An eight-day survival course in the tropical Pearl Island archipelago…

Cultures

Instead of gradually leaving Africa in a single wave, new…

Development

Iceland has become the first country in the world to…

I’m a Geographer

Daniel Hume is a naturalist and wilderness adventurer. He was…

Development

Human rights investigators have discovered widespread use of forced labour…

Development

In Thailand, women are playing an ever-increasing role in environmental…

Cultures

A British Overseas Territory, the home-in-exile of General Napoleon Bonaparte,…