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Volume 88, #3 • Summer 2015




Fascism and Social Anthropology: The Case of Spain Under Franco

Stanley Brandes, University of California, Berkeley

ABSTRACT—This social thought piece constitutes a contribution to the history of anthropology in southern Europe. Using Spain under Francisco Franco as a case study, it demonstrates the close connection between anthropology as an academic discipline, on the one hand, and fascist rule, on the other. While anthropologists neither wholeheartedly accepted the Franco regime (1939–1975) nor worked directly on that regime’s behalf, anthropological topics, theories, and approaches of the day posed no threat to the fascist regime and were, in fact, consonant with certain basic principles promoted by that regime. The culture concept, which linked particular territories to particular customs and ways of life, was in complete accord with the fascist division of society into named geographic entities, each with its own folklore, speech patterns, and popular forms of ritual and religion. Anthropologists and supporters of the Franco dictatorship alike—whether intentionally or not—ignored considerations of socioeconomic class. At the same time, anthropologists began to investigate small communities located in highly complex, literate societies. The rural peoples of these societies came to be classified as “peasants,” identified as repositories of traditional, stable ways of life, inherited from the distant past. Such anthropological studies were consonant with the ideology of the Franco regime, which glorified rural peoples and a supposedly ancient, heroic past. Similar developments were occurring elsewhere in Europe, particularly among anthropologists and folklorists working during the political reign of dictator António Oliveira de Salazar (1932–1968). The paper concludes with changes that have occurred both politically and anthropologically since the rise of democracy in Spain and Portugal during the late 1970s. [Keywords: History of anthropology, Spain, Portugal, Mediterranean Europe, fascism]

John Dulin, Susan Rasmussen, Noelle Stout, Victor Igreja,
Nurit Stadler, Ayala Fader and Owen Gottlieb

Volume 88, #3

Summer 2015