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- Author: Duncan Wheeler x
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The transition to democracy that followed the death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 was once hailed as a model of political transformation. But since the 2008 financial crisis it has come under intense scrutiny. Today, a growing divide exists between advocates of the Transition and those who see it as the source of Spain’s current socio-political bankruptcy. This book revisits the crucial period from 1962 to 1992, exposing the networks of art, media and power that drove the Transition and continue to underpin Spanish politics in the present. Drawing on rare archival materials and over 300 interviews with politicians, artists, journalists and ordinary Spaniards, including former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez (1982–96), Following Franco unlocks the complex and often contradictory narratives surrounding the foundation of contemporary Spain.
This chapter considers the impact of the Spanish television programme Cine de barrio on popular discourses surrounding national film and performance styles. First airing in 1995, Cine de barrio pairs the viewing of a classic national film (generally made sometime between 1950 and the late 70s, after the death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco) with a talk show segment between a host and an invited guest. By linking discourses on cultural and historical memory with the subsequent revival of classic national cinema brought about by Cine de barrio, the chapter explores the relationship between actors, their films and their audiences; the affective response produced in this encounter, it argues, generates a nostalgia for classic national cinema that also influences contemporary Spanish film. The chapter also addresses the links between the seemingly disparate Spanish films of the 70s and the comedic box office blowouts of the 2010s, as well as arguing for a sustained reflection on nostalgia, memory, and their connections to acting and performance.
In Tambien la lluvia/Even the Rain Iciar Bollain refashions the discourse of a social realist aesthetic in order to interrogate her country's imperial past and complicity with neocolonial practices in the present. In the simplest of terms, Even the Rain is as much a transnational film about Spain as it is a Spanish film about transnationalism. This chapter first provides a discussion of its depiction of imperialism in relation to Christopher Columbus and his 'discovery' of the New World, which makes reference both to the historical record and previous screen representations. This is followed by an examination of the political significance of the water war in Cochabamba, and how the subject matter relates to the traditional preoccupations of social-realist cinema. Finally, the chapter looks at how these two historical moments collide on screen, and question to what extent the film interrogates ostensibly realist modes of representation.
This chapter critically interrogates the extent to which in the 1970s remodelled formations of power and influence were forged and contested though a generational shift as embodied by a series of aristocratic figures from the royal and Franco families. Primary texts under consideration include articles from ¡Hola! magazine, Spain’s major contribution to global journalism, and the novels of Corín Tellado, the best selling Spanish author of all time. This chapter demonstrates how and why the feminisation of mass culture is inextricably linked to its exclusion from canonical accounts of the Transition, as well as making the case that successful political figures have been more alive to the possibilities of the popular than most intellectuals in Spain.
This introductory chapter positions the book within existing scholarship on the Transition at a time when canonical accounts of Spain´s post-Franco normalisation are in the process of being challenged, not least by the emergence of the new political party, Podemos. Rapidly evolving political and socio-cultural realities ensure that this book intervenes by default and design in ongoing debates about whether the so-called ‘culture of the Transition’, alongside an associated nomenclature, the ‘regime of ’78’ – the year in which the new democratic Spanish Constitution was signed – remain, if indeed they ever were, fit for purpose. An outline of the different sections is provided, alongside a justification of the range of cultural artefacts used, methodology employed and the time-period under consideration. Anticipating the arguments developed throughout the book, the hypothesis is advanced that the cultural politics of the thirty-year period between 1962 and 1992 is as vital for understanding contemporary Spain as the three years of the Civil War were for the passage from dictatorship to democracy.
In the 1960s, Spain had the fastest-growing economy in the world apart from Japan. As aspiration replaced austerity as the national ideal, the dictatorship increasingly used the mass media, as opposed to direct repression, as a means of wielding power. The interpellation of (un)willing subjects in a culture of non-inquisitiveness was evidently one of Francoism’s chief political triumphs, but work remains to be done on critically interrogating the information available to everyday Spaniards, alongside a more nuanced understanding of how this both shaped and reflected their interests. This chapter employs two case-studies – the bullfighter El Cordobés and pop singer Raphael – to explore the gender- and class-infected discourses that emerged around celebrity culture in the last thirteen years of General Franco’s life. The chapter analyses how and why young celebrity figures provided evidence for the oppositional left to understand mass-culture as the opium of the masses, a surreptitious form of depoliticisation. The hypothesis advanced is that a dogmatic desire to denigrate, rather than engage with, celebrity culture nevertheless proved counter-productive for their progressive ideological agenda.
During the Second Republic, federal statutes were introduced for Catalonia and the Basque Country, with another in Galicia in the process of being approved. The equation of dual identities with the purported disintegration of Spain constituted one, if the not the, chief justification for the military coup of July 1936. Adopting far more caution than had been exercised during the Second Republic, a concession to this democratic precedent and the interests of some of the most potentially conflictual regions of Spain was made in acknowledging Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia as historical nationalities whose passage from regions to autonomous communities would be fast-tracked. This chapter explores the role that culture has performed in both fostering and mitigating regional and State nationalisms, as well as contextualising how and why the economically poor Galicia has traditionally been less contentious than the more economically prosperous Catalonia and the Basque Country.
What is the relationship between culture, the State and democratisation during and after the Franco regime? The different sections of this book have responded to this question in different ways and reveal, both individually and collectively, how, in a radically divided society, one of the few things almost everyone in Spain is in agreement about is the civilising force of art and knowledge. This final chapter unpicks the ideological stakes at play in competing definitions of culture, as well as establishing genealogies to understand better how and why the toxic philanthropy of the late dictatorship period bequeathed a heuristic legacy of ideological and aesthetic veneration. The decolonisation of Equatorial Guinea and the Spanish Sahara is critically analysed alongside the matter of whether Castile can be said to have colonised other parts of Spain. The autonomous regions discussed include, but are not limited to, Andalusia, Valencia, the Canary Islands and Castile La Mancha.
The cultural competition between Madrid and Barcelona often appears to be in perpetual extra time, one side grabbing the advantage only for the other to equalise and subsequently take the lead. This chapter shows how and why Madrid, the dictatorial city par excellence, was able to reinvent itself during the Transition through the drug-fuelled youth movement known as the Movida. The purported apoliticism of La Movida is critically interrogated, as is the extent to which progressive politicians such as City Mayor Enrique Tierno Galván and President Felipe González can be held responsible for rising levels of crime, unemployment and drug use.