Gendering Anti-Francoism: Cantautoras in Spain (1952-1986)

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2023

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Abstract

Gendering Anti-Francoism reinterprets Spain’s tradition of protest music, offering the first monographic study of Iberian female singer-songwriters (cantautoras). Implementing an interdisciplinary methodology—based on the combination of textual and sonic close readings, oral history interviews, criminal records, and extensive archival research—this dissertation demonstrates that cantautoras played a major role both in the anti-Franco struggle and in the second-wave feminist movement, between 1952 and 1986. Songs were crucial for community-building, for bearing witness to different forms of violence, and for steering feminist progress. They soon became instrumental in raising individual and collective consciousness. Existing scholarship has mainly examined the lives and work of white, heterosexual, male singer-songwriters, from Paco Ibáñez’s first recordings (1956) until Franco’s death in 1975; and it has also organized cantautores by territories, e.g., studying all Catalan singers together, in isolation from their counterparts elsewhere. My periodization foregrounds a new-found group of over 70 female performers playing since the ‘50s; it extends through 1986 to include a decade of feminist activism previously overlooked. Furthermore, my analyses offer a new Iberian multilingual, multicultural, and intersectional approach, placing minoritized languages among other interconnected identity struggles involving gender, sexuality, and class. Adopting a cultural-historical perspective, I demonstrate how cantautoras confronted together the status quo, i.e., the far-reaching effects of the ultra-Catholic, sexist, and nationalist ideology of Francoism. I track how performers endured state repression and music censorship in several multi-artist tours in the 1970s. Meanwhile, concert-goers protested concert cancellations, as well as fines, arrests, and incarcerations that targeted singers. I further argue that most cantautoras put forward a feminist way of thinking that qualified and sought to inflect the priorities of left-wing political parties during the years of clandestine activism, and later, during Spain’s Transition to democracy. Thus, cantautoras performed for the left-leaning political parties and the feminist movement, pushing forward multiple struggles. During the Transition, many cantautoras sang to denounce all discrimination against women remaining from Francoist legislation. I also investigate collaborations between cantautoras, writers, and other female artists; the potential of ambiguous love songs for the LGTBIQ+ community; and the political ideas that cantautoras conveyed through children’s music.

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Romera Figueroa, Elia (2023). Gendering Anti-Francoism: Cantautoras in Spain (1952-1986). Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/27648.

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