Cultures of Anyone. Studies on Cultural Democratization in the Spanish Neoliberal Crisis

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  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at  Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies ISSN: 1463-6204 (Print) 1469-9818 (Online) Journal homepage: Cultures of anyone: studies on culturaldemocratization in the Spanish neoliberal crisis Bécquer Seguín To cite this article:  Bécquer Seguín (2019): Cultures of anyone: studies on culturaldemocratization in the Spanish neoliberal crisis, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, DOI:10.1080/14636204.2019.1609251 To link to this article: Published online: 02 May 2019.Submit your article to this journal View Crossmark data  BOOK REVIEW Cultures ofanyone:studieson culturaldemocratizationin theSpanishneoliberalcrisis , by Luis Moreno-Caballud, translated by Linda Grabner, Liverpool, LiverpoolUniversity Press, 2015, 305 pp., £26 (hardback), ISBN13 978-1781381939 / £19.99(paperback), ISBN13 978-1786941848 In many respects, the economic crisis that began in Spain in 2008  –  also known as, simply,  lacrisis  –  is still not over. Despite the mild recovery of the Spanish economy and a dip in unem-ployment numbers, many Spaniards today still have temporary employment contracts called contratos Kleenex  , cannot pay o ff   their homeownership debt and are being evicted fromtheir homes. This still dire situation, fortunately, hasn ’ t prevented scholars in Spain and theAnglophone world from taking stock of the cultural responses to the economic crisis, whichare numerous, variegated and ongoing. Luis Moreno-Caballud ’ s  Cultures of Anyone: Studieson Cultural Democratization in the Spanish Neoliberal Crisis  is, if not the  󿬁 rst, one of the  󿬁 rst sub-stantial scholarly monographs to provide a wide-ranging analysis of the crisis. And we are allfortunate that this is so, for not only does Moreno-Caballud ’ s book provide an exhaustiveaccount of the cultural practices that have blossomed since the 15M protests in 2011 but it,moreover, makes a signi 󿬁 cant contribution to the  󿬁 eld in its capacious and dexterous under-standing of what counts as  “ culture ” .Part of that contribution is to open up the  󿬁 eld of Spanish cultural studies to an analysis of political and social movements, work that, until now, has mostly been left to political scientistsand sociologists. For Moreno-Caballud,  “ culture ”  includes the copyleft movement, which advo-cates for the right to freely distribute materials that would otherwise be copyrighted, just asmuch as the novels of Juan Marsé; the cultural think tank Fundación de los Comunes just asmuch as the Euraca Seminar on contemporary poetry; a manifesto in defense of internetrights just as much as essays by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán. De 󿬁 ning  “ cultures of anyone ” ,the primary term he uses throughout the book, Moreno-Caballud writes,  “  These  ‘ cultures of anyone ’  have arisen mostly around grassroots social movements and in collaborative spacesfostered by digital technology, but they are spreading to many other social milieus, includingthose traditionally reserved for institutional  ‘ culture ’  and  ‘ politics ’”  (4). Moreno-Caballud ’ saccount of culture treats social and political movements not only as valuable objects of culturalstudy, but also as objects that dialogue with, challenge and ultimately shape traditional culturalobjects, from literature to photography to pop music. What he calls  “ cultural democratization ” inthesubtitleandthroughout thebook, then, hasas much todowith whohasaccess to cultureas it does with who can produce it. These objects of culture are collaborative and horizontal atboth the point of reception  and   the point of production.Organized into six chapters,  Cultures of Anyone  proceeds more or less chronologically, cover-ing the entire period from the Transition to the present. The  󿬁 rst part of the book, which con-sists of the  󿬁 rst three chapters, provides an account of the intellectuals who came to createwhat Moreno-Caballud calls the  “ culture of experts ”  (77). He identi 󿬁 es the srcins of thisculture of experts in the shift from autarky to technocracy in the Franco regime, when engi-neers, sociologists and other intellectuals executed a so-called colonization of Spain ’ s ruralareas as part of a broader plan to liberalize the economy. The importation of economic liberal-ism and individualism, according to Moreno-Caballud, is what ultimately marginalized collec-tive cultural practices and consolidated the  “ middle-class ”  vision of society that carriedthrough into the democratic period. The third chapter provides a hinge between the  󿬁 rst JOURNAL OF SPANISH CULTURAL STUDIES  and second parts of the book. It tells the story of what might have been in Spain had  “ an intel-lectual counter- 󿬁 gure ”  (105) emerged to challenge the elite intellectual that ushered in neoli-beralism through the back door of the Franco dictatorship. Moreno-Caballud excavates “ counterfactual re 󿬂 ections ”  (105) that lead us through the writings of Luis Mateo Díez,Marsé, Montalbán and others. In a wonderfully unconventional book, this chapter will be themost familiar to scholars of literature  –  but, in its uncovering of an alternative future to theone people in Spain have lived through over the past two decades, it also may be the mostpowerful. The book  ’ s remaining chapters bring us up to the present. They examine the collective cul-tural practices that have emerged since 2008, delving into the past, when appropriate, in orderto trace their prehistories as well as their critiques of what Guillem Martínez has termed  “ theculture of the Transition ” . Moreno-Caballud shows how the proliferation of collective practicesonline, which have created everything from internet manifestos to subtitles for TV shows andmovies, have developed  “ because of the desire that there be a common space where intelli-gences can freely develop their abilities in collaboration ”  (176). He demonstrates why suchapparently counterproductive formal constraints as, for example, the sequence, time limitsand ordering of speeches at Puerta del Sol during the 15M occupations were, in fact, an ega-litarian and useful way to counter  “ the illegitimate hoarding of cultural authority ”  (226) by intel-lectuals and the media. But for all his appreciation of how 15M transformed cultural practices inSpain, Moreno-Caballud understands the limits of scholarly inquiry and remains keenly awareof how his work might come across to the unsuspecting reader  – “ I am not trying to fetishizethe event or the climate of the 15M movement ”  (204), he reiterates.In the book  ’ s epilogue, Moreno-Caballud strikes perhaps the most self-re 󿬂 exive tone in abook already very mindful of the limits of its own existence and written framework.  “ Iimagine now ” , he writes,  “ a book with a less traditional authorial voice ”  (275). The book Moreno-Caballud has in mind is one su ff  used with memoir, critical theory, ethnography,essay and manifesto. That book, like this one, would indeed be another welcome contributionto what we might broadly call the cultural public sphere in Spain. But formal constraints arenonetheless useful. The book  ’ s mostly chronological organization, its logical sequence of experiences and analyses, its threading together of the latter with the words of theoristsand writers  –  all of these make Moreno-Caballud ’ s book not only an academic monographbut an intellectual repository for those who wish to turn their attention to such collective prac-tices in Spanish history. We all imagine one day ful 󿬁 lling Walter Benjamin ’ s desire to compile abook of quotations with no context or explanatory notes. But let not our modernist impulsescheapen the labor of scholarship. Moreno-Caballud ’ s  Cultures of Anyone  is a tremendouspiece of labor. It reaches a deep and insightful understanding of its subjects that would bethe envy of any monograph  –  scholarly, narrative, collective. And it will indeed be read, bothin and outside the academy, for many years to come.Bécquer Seguín  Johns Hopkins University © 2019 Bécquer Seguín 2 BOOK REVIEW
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