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The End of the Spanish Empire, 1898–1923$
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Sebastian Balfour

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205074

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205074.001.0001

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The Aftermath of Disaster

The Aftermath of Disaster

(p.49) 2 The Aftermath of Disaster
The End of the Spanish Empire, 1898–1923

Sebastian Balfour

Oxford University Press

The Disaster exposed as a terrible delusion the belief that Spain was at least a middle-ranking world power — a belief that was a central component of the national culture. The loss of the last remnants of the Empire provoked a severe post-imperial crisis among sections of Spanish society, one that had been delayed since the early 19th century. Spain's political system, its national character, and Spanish nationhood itself now began to be widely questioned. This crisis was all the more acute because it occurred at the highest point in the age of empire, when the possession of colonies was seen as the bench-mark of a nation's fitness to survive. As the nation-state became consolidated in many other European countries, the nation-state in Spain was increasingly being weakened by centrifugal forces, as a result of the unevenness of modernization. Parts of Spain were undergoing a rapid process of social and economic transformation while vast areas of the country remained unmodernized. The widening economic gap between the two generated increasing political and cultural contradictions which made any resolution of the crisis of the political system even more difficult to achieve.

Keywords:   Spain, Spanish–American War, Spanish Empire, colonies, nationhood, modernization, nation-state

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