Today I had an interesting chat with Quino, one of the young archivists at the ACA. It started with my innocent question on when school starts again and ended up in a big discussion on job opportunities (or lack thereof) for young academics in Spain and the fierce rivalry between Valencia and Catalunya.
While Alan would no doubt love it if I got a job here, Quino has confirmed my impressions on the possibilities. Catalan universities had its boom – in terms of enrolment – in the 1970s and 1980s and this led to the hiring of many professors. Now, the number of university students are declining and most of the faculty hired in the boom years are now in their 40s, with lots of years left at work. No new faculty will be needed for the next ten years at least. Plus, academics here tend to be overworked and underpaid. As a friend recently suggested, the best deal is to get a job in North America and spend half the year in Spain doing research.
As for the rivalry between Valencia and Catalunya – Quino is from Valencia – it stems from a certain inferiority complex felt by the former in relation to the latter. This has led some Valencians to adopt an alternative view of its history and culture. One example is the creation of a Valencian language. Some people, in their effort to stress the difference between their homeland and Catalunya, maintain that the language they speak is “valenciano”, which has nothing to do with Catalan. This is like suggesting that the language spoken in Brazil has nothing to do with Portuguese. Or that the Castilian spoken in Chile and Spain are intrinsically different. It all reminded me a lot of the feelings of hostility I encountered in the north-east of Brazil (Recife) for the wealthier south (Rio, Sao Paulo, etc).
It seems to me that the more you travel the world, the more you realize how similar we all are…