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The Fossils of Atapuerca: Scientific Nationalism and the New Beginning of Spanish History

AutorHochadel, Oliver
Fecha de publicación2015
EditorJohn Wiley & Sons
CitaciónStudies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 15 : 389-410 (2015)
ResumenNumerous studies have shown how closely nation-building accompanies research into human prehistory. While these studies primarily focus on the period before 1945, the example of the Spanish site Atapuerca demonstrates that the strong link between hominid fossils and national identity still exists in the twenty-first century. The article argues that there are different ways of appropriating prehistoric human remains. One may distinguish the concept of ‘biological continuity’ in which the fossils represent some kind of ancestor from the concept of ‘scientific nationalism’. The latter consists in the pride in the scholarly achievement and international recognition of ‘our own’ scientists. The Atapuerca project was crucial in overcoming the Spanish ‘inferiority complex’ with respect to scientific prowess. In Atapuerca we may even discern a third concept: the marketing of origins in order to lure tourists to the site – nationalism enterprised-up. The Spanish researchers created a multifold ‘popularization industry’ and forged a close alliance with the national media. Thus, this article will try to explain how Atapuerca turned within less than ten years from a little known archaeological site to the – however imaginary – starting point of Spanish history at the turn of the millennium.
Identificadoresdoi: 10.1111/sena.12157
issn: 1754-9469
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