Pedagogies of Citizenship

Sepharad and Jewishness in Spanish and Catalan Documentary Film and Television

Catalan filmmaker Martí Sans’s documentary L’estigma? (The Stigma?) (2012) and the Spanish television fiction series Cuéntame cómo pasó (Tell me how it happened) (2001-) confer visibility to the small national Jewish community that remains largely imaginary to their fellow Spaniards. They exemplify how cultural productions may reframe and circulate a different (his)story about the relationship of democratic Spain and Catalonia to the legacy of Sepharad and Jewishness, though they approach storytelling from different perspectives: the former is a social issues documentary defined by its didacticism; the latter delivers “infotainment” by appealing to viewers’ emotions. L’estigma?, structured around interviews with academics, theologians, and journalists, denounces longstanding antisemitic stereotypes that permeate Spanish society. Cuéntame, by introducing Jewish characters into a Spanish family drama, taps network TV as a vehicle to familiarize the viewing public with Jewish customs and Sephardi heritage in Spain. They present their audiences with an aspirational civic pedagogy, though not without a certain ambivalence toward the pluralistic landscape this pedagogy promotes.

issue 18 / December 2020 by Hazel Gold