Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture

Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture

Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture

Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture


Some 750 alphabetically-arranged entries provide insights into recent cultural and political developments within Spain, including the cultures of Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque country. Coverage spans from the end of the Civil War in 1939 to the present day, with emphasis on the changes following the demise of the Franco dictatorship in 1975.Entries range from shorter, factual articles to longer overview essays offering in-depth treatment of major issues. Culture is defined in its broadest sense. Entries include:*Antonio Gaud¿* science* Antonio Banderas* golf* dance* education* politics* racism* urbanizationThis Encyclopedia is essential reading for anyone interested in Spanish culture. It provides essential cultural context for students of Spanish, European History, Comparative European Studies and Cultural Studies.


This Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture reflects the expansion of interest in Spanish culture which has been a feature not only of academic life but of the general public arena during the last quarter of the twentieth century. It strives to meet the needs not only of students following traditional language and literature courses but also of those studying in the broader and more flexible programmes which have emerged in universities and further education colleges, in which Spanish is studied in the context of area studies, business studies and political and social sciences. It is also relevant to students who are not specializing in Spanish culture as such, but who nevertheless need to acquire a knowledge of contemporary Spain as part of a curriculum in, for instance, European studies, European politics, popular culture or film studies. The encyclopedia is written so as to require no knowledge of the Spanish language, or of Spanish history and institutions other than what can be acquired by an educated non-specialist reader of the quality daily or weekly press.

One reason for the widespread interest in Spain, for which the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture tries to cater, is the impressively successful and, in the main, peaceful transition since 1975 from an authoritarian political system to a modern liberal democracy, a series of profound changes which have had far-reaching cultural effects. Spain up to 1975 was an anomaly in Europe, the last and longest surviving relic of the military dictatorships of the 1930s. A mere seven years later, it not only had free elections, parliamentary government and a democratic constitution, but had installed a centre-left social democrat government. It achieved this by a combination of adaptation and modernization of existing institutions, and imaginative innovations such as the replacement of the rigid unitary structure of the Franco dictatorship with a quasi-federal constitution creating a system of autonomous communities, which recognized the cultural, political and economic diversity of the peninsula.

This blend of continuity and innovation has been the keynote of cultural developments such as contemporary music and dance, which have incorporated traditional forms like flamenco into new modes of expression which link Spain to some of the most adventurous movements in Europe and beyond. Moreover, developments in areas like poetry and the visual arts have reconnected with some of the bold insights of the avant-garde movements of the 1930s without in any sense being backward-looking. In addition, though cultural life has flourished in the freer conditions of democracy, the widely held view of the Franco dictatorship as a cultural desert, while partly true, is an exaggeration. Despite the difficulties imposed by censorship, writers, artists and filmmakers were still able to produce work of quality, and to maintain a tradition on which later generations could build. This is no less true of the distinctive cultures of Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque country, which were never completely stifled during the dictatorship, though they have undoubtedly been the beneficiaries of the resources devoted to the promotion of regional cultures by the autonomous communities.

In its presentation and coverage, the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture endeavours to break new ground. The definition of ‘Spanish’ includes ‘all cultures present within the territorial boundaries of the Spanish state’. This means that due regard is paid to the Catalan, Galician and Basque

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