A visit to Solanell, a depopulated town near the Catalan city of La Seu d'Urgel, provided the inspiration for an examination of its demise. Based on the findings of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere program, in which an interdisciplinary team conducted research on mountain ecosystems in the High Pyrenees, this article situates Solanell's experience in a regional context that is still marked by a clash between tradition and modernity. Today the power of decentralized authority, fueled by notions of Catalan autonomy in a New Spain and a New Europe, is a concrete political reality that is radically reshaping the conventions of culture and landscape. But so too are the impact and legacy of the Franco years, as well as age-old difficulties imposed by the physical environment. The fate of Solanell is considered an inevitable outcome of debilitating forces that the town became ill-equipped to confront.
Key Words: abandonment, Catalonia, depopulation, Pyrenees.
DR. LOVELL is a professor of geography at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6.
To contact the author:
Mail: Professor W. George Lovell
Department Of Geography
Canada K7L 3N6
Phone: (613) 545-6030, (613) 545-6122 fax