Episode 21- The Transformation of Rural Spain under Francoism

Episode 21 with Dave Henderson

Since at least the 19th century, Badajoz Province was the classic example of Spain’s most grievous ills: a harsh landscape where poverty, unemployment and landlessness were endemic.  Dave Henderson traces the failed efforts of successive governments to tackle these problems and then explains how the Franco regime sought to take a different approach centered on irrigation, social regulation and land grants to politically reliable farmers.  Did the Francoist plan transform the landscape and society of Spain’s poorest region?  Henderson argues that it did, but in a manner far different from what government planners had envisioned.

The Episode

The Guest

Dave Henderson is a lecturer at Miramar College in San Diego.  He received his PhD in modern European history from the University of California, San Diego with a dissertation on the social ambitions of irrigation projects in Badajoz: El Mar de Extremadura: Irrigation, Colonization and Francoism in Southwestern Spain, 1898-1978. Here, he argued that the Francoist regime attempted to pacify a left-wing countryside by designing a targeted social program that would support a minority of the rural population deemed politically desirable.  His research focuses on the relationship between the ambitions of the Franco regime and the nature of Spain’s transformations in the mid-twentieth century. 

Suggested Reading

  • Brenan, Gerald.  The Spanish Labyrinth: The Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 1943.
  • Burke III, Edmund. “Toward a Comparative History of the Modern Mediterranean, 1750-1919.” Journal of World History 23, no. 4 (Dec. 2012): 907-39.
  • Gaviria, Mario. Extremadura Saqueada: recursos naturales y autonomía regional. Ruedo Ibérico, 1978.
  • Hobsbawm, E.J.  Primitive Rebels: Studies in Archaic Forms of Social Movement in the 19th and 20th Centuries.  New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1965.
  • Malefakis, Edward E.  Agrarian Reform and Peasant Revolution in Spain: Origins of the Civil War.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970.
  • Mayer, Arno J. The Persistence of the Old Regime: Europe to the Great War. Pantheon Books, 1981.
  • Ringrose, David.  Spain, Europe and the “Spanish Miracle” 1700-1900.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
  • Rosique Navarro, Francisca.  La reforma agraria en Badajoz durante la IIª República (La respuesta patronal).  Departamento de Publicaciones de la Excma. Diputación Provincial de Badajoz, 1988.
  • Swyngedouw, Erik. Liquid Power: Contested Hydro-Modernities in Twentieth-Century Spain. The MIT Press, 2015.

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