The Rise of the Department Store and the Fall of Francoism

Episode 49 with Alejandro Gómez del Moral

Any visitor to Spain today will be familiar with the Cortes Inglés department store as the anchor of Spanish commercial cityscape.  But how did department stores take hold in Spain and what there the political implications of their rise? In this episode, Alejandro Gómez del Moral tells their story in the context of Spain’s turbulent early-twentieth century and long Francoist dictatorship.  In Part I, we examine how department stores thrived even within the restrictive culture of the dictatorship, while in Part II, we discuss to what extent the rise of consumer culture contributed to the undermining of the dictatorial regime.

The Episode

The Guest

Alejandro J. Gómez del Moral is a Senior Lecturer in Economic and Social History at the University of Helsinki (Finland), was previously an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Southern Mississippi (USA), and holds a Ph.D. in History from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (USA). His recent book, Buying into Change: Mass Consumption, Dictatorship, and Democracy in Franco’s Spain, 1939-1982 (2021, University of Nebraska Press), examines the role that mass consumption played in the sociopolitical transformation of the Franco dictatorship (1939-1975) and Spain’s transition to democracy. This research has been recognized with the Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies’ Best Dissertation Prize in Iberian History, received funding from the Spanish Ministry for Culture, Education, and Sport, and was a finalist for the Business Historical Conference’s Herman E. Krooss Prize for Best Dissertation in Business History. His current book project explores the development and growth of the cured pork industry in Spain, and specifically examines the process by which diverse private and public sector actors constructed a Spanish national brand identity centered around jamón and other pork charcuterie and marketed this national gastro-brand worldwide.  More broadly, Gómez del Moral is interested in the study of consumer culture and transnational cultural flows between postwar Europe and the Americas, as well as mass sport and its commercialization.

Suggested Readings

  • Crumbaugh, Justin. Destination Dictatorship: The Spectacle of Spain’s Tourist Boom and the Reinvention of Difference. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2009.
  • De Grazia, Victoria. Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance through 20th-Century Europe. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2006. 
  • Kornetis, Kostis, Eirini Kotsovili, and Nikolaos Papadogiannis, eds. Gender and Consumption in Southern Europe since the Long 1960s. London: Bloomsbury, 2016. 
  • Lundin, Per, and Kaiserfeld, Thomas, eds. The Making of European Consumption: Facing the American Challenge. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
  • Maixé-Altes, J. Carles. “La modernización de la distribución alimentaria en España, 1947–1995.” Revista de Historia Industrial 41 no. 3 (2009): 109–44.
  • Morcillo, Aurora G.  True Catholic Womanhood: Gender Ideology in Franco’s Spain. Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2000.
  • Radcliff, Pamela Beth. Making Democratic Citizens in Spain: Civil Society and the Popular Origins of the Transition, 1960–1978. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
  • Rodríguez Jiménez, Francisco Javier, Lorenzo Delgado Gómez-Escalonilla, and Nicolás Cull, eds. U.S. Public Diplomacy and Democratization in Spain: Selling Democracy? London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 
  • Toboso Sánchez, Pilar. Pepín Fernández, 1891–1982, Galerías Preciados, El pionero de los grandes almacenes. Madrid: Lid Historia Empresarial, 2000.
  • Townson, Nigel, ed. Spain Transformed: The Late Franco Dictatorship, 1959–1975. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. 

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