Coros y Danzas: Musical Folklore and Spanish Identity in the Early Franco Regime (1939-53)
This study investigates how the early Franco regime (1939-53) used Spanish musical traditions as a form of propaganda and cultural diplomacy during the first fourteen years of the dictatorship––a period that saw Spain transform itself from a supporter of Nazi Germany to a staunch ally of the Western Bloc. Based on archival work conducted in eight archives throughout Spain, I challenge a rather monolithic view of how the Franco regime portrayed gender roles and Spanish regional cultures at home and abroad according to different geopolitical circumstances. In particular, I focus on the Sección Femenina, the women’s section of the fascist Falange party, that represented an institutionalised view of folk music and women’s role in society. This group, numbering over 30,000 female members in 1950, sent young women to remote villages throughout the nation’s diverse cultural and linguistic regions to select, transcribe, and at times compose folk music and dance. I study how the female members of the Sección Femenina edited, documented, published, and performed musical folklore to shape and promote Francoist concepts of Spanish cultural and racial purity. Referring to writings on nationalism and cultural identity, this investigation proposes that the collectors determined the ‘purity’ of different regional ethnic communities throughout the nation. Ultimately, the Franco regime used the Sección Femenina’s concept of Hispanidad to justify its oppressive cultural policies and as a form of cultural diplomacy abroad.