This special issue explores the effects of these memorial debates on how history is written in the 20th Spanish century, offering an overview of research conducted over the past twenty years. Read More
A Historiographical Transition? Eighty Years of Spanish History Revisited
Élodie Richard et Charlotte Vorms
Over the course of three decades (1940-1960), two different accounts of Spain's recent past were proposed: the official pro-Franco narrative and an alternative history elaborated by historians abroad. Following the regime's crisis and the transition to democracy. Spanish historians began constructing their own national history (1970-1990). As this history has been integrated into European historiography during the last twenty years, however, historiographical controversies regarding the aforementioned period have been rekindled. This article contextualises this development with regard to the long history of Spain penned by many generations of historians since the 1940s, whose work was shaped by a number of imposed constraints and commitments.
The Disputed Memory of the Spanish Transition to Democracy
As a positive counterpoint to the tragedy of the 1930s, Spain's transition to democracy represents a symbolic element with great impact on current political issues. However, the transition's canonical narrative, established as a foundation myth, has recently been contested by alternative narratives that challenge the virtues of its legacy, identified as being responsible for the vices of democracy. The article intends to examine not only the attacks suffered by the memory of the democratic transition, but also its continually renewed vitality. For despite echoes of the call for a "second transition", and notwithstanding the efforts of historians at deconstructing the transitional myth, the latter has preserved its prestige well enough to shape perceptions of the more distant past, including those developed by historiographers.
The Spanish Civil War: Historiographical Issues and Political Legacy
The historiography of the Spanish Civil War is vast and rich in relatively consensual themes, in sharp contrast to the controversial debates raging in the public sphere, produced by extreme right-wing revisionism and issues of memory and politics. Beyond this consensus, a catastrophist metanarrative of the war shapes the collective historical account of a fratricidal conflict, of a collective madness that we must comprehend in order to defend against its harmful influence. The history of Spain's civil war is designed to serve as magistra vitae. It represents one of the cornerstones of the institutional consensus forged in 1978, and which is threatened by the regime’s present crisis. This crisis might give birth to the necessary conditions for new historical interpretations and narratives.
The Violence during the Spanish Second Republic: A Political Issue
Eduardo González Calleja
The issue of political violence became part of Spanish historiographical debates at the beginning of the 1980s. At that time, many criticised the lack of a clear and rigorous approach to the historical analysis of political violence. Critics also emphasised the need for a closer relationship with other social sciences and their methods. And yet Spain is currently one of the European countries where violence is intensively studied using the most innovative methodologies and theoretical approaches. This article attempts to explain this evolution, from the use of political violence as a tool to legitimate Franco’s regime to the scientific debates of the last thirty years regarding acts of violence that occurred during the Second Republic.
The Renewal of Academic History Professors during the Early Years of Franco’s Regime
Rubén Pallol Trigueros
Franco’s purge of Spanish universities left many chairs vacant across history departments, which were then filled between 1940 and 1951. The new professors adapted their rhetoric to the regime’s national and Catholic values and, with the exception of minute nuances, supported Franco’s regime and legitimised it by providing a specific historical interpretation. However, the link between scientific discourse and political positioning was governed by a variety of factors. This article presents the cases of five professors appointed during the 1940s, illustrating the complex relationships between political power and intellectual activity during the early years of Franco’s regime.
Belchite: Between Place of Memory and Place of Recognition (1937-2013)
Belchite is a unique Spanish Civil War martyr village that has been preserved in ruins since 1938, the first of its kind in Europe. It is a remarkable place from which to examine the complex relationship that the Spanish have developed with the civil war and the long post-war period. It likewise illustrates the contradictions of the politics of remembrance pursued during the democratic transition, and more recently, of the commemorative trend that has engulfed the country. In addition to shedding new light on these politics of remembrance, Belchite offers a means to evaluate how individual and family memories are connected to "historical memory", ultimately countering the idea that these two are radically opposed.
The Role of the Church in Repression under Franco
Many studies have recently interpreted the repression of Franco’s regime as an episode of the mass violence perpetrated by European fascism during the Second World War. Nonetheless, this repression cannot be fully understood if only physical violence is considered. In fact, from the start, Franco’s penitentiary system, which was primarily derived from its judicial predecessor, was also established as a powerful tool of social control. This article studies penitentiary institutions during Franco’s dictatorship and underscores their specifically Spanish and Catholic roots. It also illustrates how viewing Francoism as merely the importation of fascist and Nazi beliefs can lead to an overly simplistic interpretation.
The Cult of Death in Spain’s"New State" (1936-1941)
Francisco Sevillano Calero
This article examines how the war, as early as the summer of 1936, was used to legitimise Spain’s "New State". The war was framed as a bellum justum (just war) and provided a causa justa (just cause) for the military rebellion led by its caudillo, the charismatic Francisco Franco, and defended by the blood of its "martyrs" and those fallen (caídos) in battle. Once it took root, this war was designed to end with the total destruction, moral devalorisation and dehumanisation of the enemy. The spread of these forms of representation created a culture of war used to construct the collective identity of a “national” Spain, in opposition to the “anti-Spain”. The institutionalisation of a death cult, as well as the transfer of dogmatic, liturgical and ritual elements from the Christian to the political repertoire, were essential for the construction of this culture of war.
Controlling the Sexuality of Valencian Girls in Franco’s Spain during the 1940s and 1950s
This study of a Valencian reformatory school is a work in social history and gender studies that examines how the sexuality of young girls was perceived and controlled under Franco’s regime during the 1940s and 1950s. The regime’s approach to juvenile deviancy can be characterized in part by its strong emphasis on the moral dimension of feminine misbehavior. “Reforming” these youths meant training them to become wives and mothers, in conformity with the feminine archetype endorsed by Francoism. This strict control over morality, far more significant than political repression, reveals the considerable influence wielded by the Catholic Church in postwar Spain.
From a Housing Crisis to an Urban Problem: Franco’s Regime and Urban Living Conditions
This article examines housing policies throughout Franco’s regime. The government’s housing intervention seemed to demonstrate the regime’s ability to solve economic and social problems, and thus to perpetuate itself otherwise than through force. Housing assistance policies did allow for the construction of millions of dwellings and widespread access to property, which symbolised the economic miracle of the “Desarrollismo” (developmentalism) of the 1960s and 1970s. However, Franco’s urban policies created unequal and low-quality cities. Consequently, instead of increasing social support for the regime, housing polices provoked social protest starting at the end of the 1960s.
Everyday Local Dynamics of Repression under Franco (1936-1950)
Claudio Hernández Burgos
Although repression is a central topic of research on Franco’s dictatorship, some grey areas still remain unexamined. The everyday functioning of repression is one such grey area. This article seeks to analyse the quotidian dynamics of repression by adopting a local and bottom-up perspective. Through the use of both primary and secondary sources as well as oral accounts, this article describes the different channels, mechanisms and spaces through which violence was expressed. It also highlights the numerous agents involved in this process. Ultimately, this article paints a more complex picture of repression and provides a wider but also more dynamic interpretation of the phenomenon.
A Social History of Anti-Franco Resistance
This article presents an approach to anti-fascist resistance in Spain from the perspective of social history, cultural history, historical sociology and anthropology. Two categories are developed, the modern guerrilla and the “armed peasants”, which shed light on many aspects that have hitherto remained unexamined. These categories were defined according to the analysis of twelve variables: the pro-unification or pro-independence stance of groups; their internal structure; their geographical scope and level of action; their strategy; their social composition; where the guerrillas were from; their collective experience; the type of internal cohesion; group size; the types of discipline; propaganda; and repertoires of collective action.
The Early Years of Franco’s Regime As “Seen from the Bottom”: Armed Resistance and Everyday Resistances (1939-1952)
Mercedes Yusta Rodrigo
Recent studies have re-examined the historiography of postwar Spain through a “bottom-up” approach. Based on such works, this article proposes a new interpretation of the armed resistance against the dictatorship (guerrilla fighters and maquis) that took place during the 1940s. This interpretation takes into account the conflict’s local dimension, the cycles of violence that were triggered by the Civil War, and most of all, the population’s attitude. Thus, armed resistance is connected to the “everyday” resistances developed by the rural population in conflict zones. Finally, gender is highlighted as a key element to interpret this phenomenon.
Religion in 20th-Century Spain
Feliciano Montero García
The history and the historiography of religion in contemporary Spain have followed parallel trajectories throughout the second half of the 20th Century. The guiding principle of this historiographical assessment is observing the impact of context upon historiography. It highlights the close relationship between the continued presence and reappearance of the “religious issue” on the political agenda, from the angle of the fight for secularisation or “laicité”, and the historical analysis of its deep roots. After presenting the background of the religious issue prior to 1931, this article analyses a number of historiographical elements in the context of the historical evolution of the relationship between the Church and secularism, moving from confrontation and conflict (in the 1930s,) to reconciliation (1965-1980), and ultimately the conflict’s re-emergence in the 2000s.