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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Spain Is (Not So) Different: Whitening Spain through Late Francoist Comedy


This study argues that the popular comedy cinema of late Francoism (roughly 1960-75), known as comedia sexy, comedia celtibérica, or simply landismo, aimed to shift the international perception of Spain away from racialized stereotypes of the nation’s Africanness in order to move it closer to a white European identity. Troubled by the reputation of Francoism as anachronistic in a context of global decolonization, civil rights in the U.S., and rapid social and economic change within Spain, the regime used the popular cinema industry, which was closely aligned with it ideologically, to portray Spain as upwardly mobile on a geopolitical hierarchy that was imagined as a black/white racial paradigm. Specifically, by intertwining the macho ibérico/sueca narrative trope with racist caricatures of blacks, this cinema aimed to accentuate Spain’s upward geopolitical and racial mobility by contrasting it with the fixity of racial others, while simultaneously retaining a deracialized, commodifiable “difference” as a competitive advantage on the world stage.

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