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Spanish culture and politics in transition, 1962–92
Author: Duncan Wheeler

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.

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica
Duncan Wheeler

cultural, as well as the economic, spheres was unsustainable. By the time of the dictator’s death, Picasso was widely considered the twentieth century’s greatest artist, and Federico García Lorca ranked as the most translated Spanish playwright. Executed by Falangist thugs shortly after the illegal rebel uprising, Lorca’s death alongside Guernica were evidence of the regime’s violent philistinism, ensuring an indelible link in the international psyche between Franco’s victory and a defeat for culture. As numerous studies have shown, the afterlife of Guernica is a

in Following Franco
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Patronage and permissiveness
Duncan Wheeler

In the aftermath of Franco’s death, the right allowed the country to move towards the centre in exchange for the bodies of the vanquished and the biographies of the victorious remaining interred. The unsuccessful coup changed the balance of power: new terms of engagement could, and perhaps ought, to have been brought into play. On the one hand, citizens rightly celebrated that they now had more freedoms than ever before. Conversely, however, as Charles Tilly notes, a level of distrust is ‘a necessary condition of democracy. Contingent consent

in Following Franco
Manuel Benítez ‘El Cordobés’ and Raphael
Duncan Wheeler

, Benítez suffered the after-effects of the Civil War first-hand: his father died in the prison into which he had been thrown for his Republican sympathies. Raised in social care, the orphaned child did whatever was necessary to improve his fortunes: teetering on the edge of starvation and criminality, he made a name for himself in small towns and villages by taking on bulls in ramshackle and frequently lethal festivities from a young age. On 21 February 1961, Pipo – El Cordobés’s ruthless and ambitious manager – organised the first bullfight to be held in Franco’s

in Following Franco
The houses of Alba, Franco and Bourbon
Duncan Wheeler

Beginning life in 1940s Barcelona, ¡Hola! became a social phenomenon when the magazine moved its centre of operations to Madrid, began publishing in colour and expanded national distribution: weekly sales rose from 250,000 in 1962 to 470,000 in 1974. 1 The fixation on royalty by ‘the most conspicuous commercial success of Franco’s Spain’ 2 was symptomatic of a contradiction at the heart of the regime: the trappings of aristocracy, without noble lineage. Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, the Duchess of Alba, always retained an aristocratic disdain

in Following Franco
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Duncan Wheeler

’ Party; PSOE) and the Partido Popular (People’s Party; PP) had alternated in government. Unaccustomed to serious competition, the major parties had become complacent. If young people had once run from the police to oppose the regime of General Francisco Franco (1939–75) and to fight for democratic rights, their sole objective in the twenty-first century appeared to be the right to party. Protests, in other words, were no longer what they used to be. This would all change with the financial crisis, which exposed the political elites as being singularly unimpressive at

in Following Franco
Duncan Wheeler

Irrespective of whether Fraga’s prime contribution be understood as the liberalisation or the legitimisation and prolongation of Francoism, his appointment as Minister of Information and Tourism in 1962 was indicative of the regime increasingly seeking international respectability, and he was responsible for a radical overhaul of how journalism and cultural production were regulated in both ideological and bureaucratic terms. Hardline Francoist Gabriel Arias-Salgado had previously held the position since the Ministry was created in 1951. Shortly

in Following Franco
The State, autonomous communities and the culture wars
Duncan Wheeler

What is the relationship between culture, the State and democratisation during and after the Franco regime? The various 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. In this final chapter, my aim is to unpick the ideological stakes at play in competing definitions of culture, as well as to establish genealogies to

in Following Franco
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Duncan Wheeler

’ Roses blasting out of the speakers and to see Paul Preston’s far-from-hagiographical biography of Franco occupying pride of place behind the bar. Military hats and paraphernalia provided more predictable ambience. Tickets for upcoming bullfighting events were advertised, alongside a range of kitsch merchandise including T-shirts, wine and cigarette lighters. Framed photos of the Caudillo next to El Cordobés, and Juan Carlos with Sofia, as well as Adolfo Suárez, adorned the walls. The PP’s Esperanza Aguirre was the only active politician to be celebrated in this visual

in Following Franco
Isabel Preysler, Miguel Boyer, Julio Iglesias, Francisco Rivera ‘Paquirri’ and Isabel Pantoja
Duncan Wheeler

In some but not all respects, Spain skipped modernity and went from being a premodern to a postmodern society. That said, a tendency to overstress the traditionalism of late Francoism is replicated in a blindness to the continuities still in place in the 1980s, the decade in which Spanish democracy was consolidated. This can clearly be evidenced in the production and reception of popular culture. Raphael and Corín Tellado saw their popularity wane at home, even as their stock rose in Latin America. Conversely, however, the dominant assumption

in Following Franco