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Doctoral studies > PhD dissertations UAB

Clara Florensa Rodríguez
Discursos sobre l'evolució en el franquisme (1939-1967). La Generación del 48 i "La evolución sin problema"
Supervisor/s: Carlos Tabernero Holgado, Xavier Roqué Rodríguez
Date of defense: 21-07-2017

This thesis explores the discourses on the evolution of species in the first three decades of Francoism (1939-1967). From the study of these discourses in the public sphere, it reaches the debates on this subject in elitist groups: ecclesiastical elites, scientists and the so-called ideologues of the regime. It shows the concern of these elites for the circulation of evolutionary ideas among the general public. This preoccupation was manifested, first, in an evolutionary silence in the general press that lasted for the first ten years of Francoism and, subsequently, in the initiatives to build a version of evolutionism consistent with the ideological principles of the regime, and apt for its circulation in the public sphere. The thesis argues that the discourses on evolution played a key role in the Catholic culture -and science- project, which was one of the programmatic bases of the New State. Through them, not only the anti-materialist and transcendental rhetoric advocated by the regime, but also its anti-communist rhetoric, were legitimized. At an international level, the ideal of science intended for the New Spain clashed with the principles on which the Modern Synthesis of Evolution, or Neo-Darwinism, was being built. Neo-Darwinism rejected any transcendental explanation of the evolutionary process and it was being promoted with strength and resources from the United Kingdom and the United States. This thesis reveals the involvement of Spanish scientists in the construction of a scientifically based “Traditional Synthesis of Evolution” able to compete with Neo-Darwinism. The implantation of a Catholic science depended on the success of this alternative synthesis. And the Catholic science was part of the Catholic culture in which the ideologues of the Francoist state had based the implantation of the new regime. In this sense, this thesis proposes that the scientists were also converted into ideologues of the Franco regime. Their discourses on science helped to build its foundations, legitimize it and perpetuate it. The study of the public discourses leads to the focus on the Generation of ’48. This group, who were heirs and continuers of the traditional Catholic and monarchist Spanish thought, competed with other factions of the regime for cultural hegemony. Imposing their cultural project was considered a key step in achieving their political goals. The culture they advocated was, like that of all groups, a Catholic and unitary culture, in which all branches of knowledge were linked to the trunk of theology. The peculiarity of the Generation of ’48 was that it tried to liberate culture of all past and present “heterodoxy”. This group tried to establish and disseminate a version of evolution coherent with its principles, free of all “heterodox” seeds: an “Evolution without problem” for Franco's Spain. This faction of the regime dominated strategic positions in the management of information and culture in Spain for much of the period covered in this thesis. Therefore, its discourses on evolution are the focus of this thesis. Through the initiatives to create its discourse, in which renowned Spanish scientists participated, this thesis has discovered a network that brought together the Generation of ’48 in a common endeavour beyond what the historiography had brought to light. The “Traditional Synthesis of Evolution”, which was attempted and spread in Spain, however, was not the autarchic fruit of an isolated Franco regime. The research reveals the connections and international collaborations of the project, and shows how Spain not only sought to be “the spiritual reserve of the West” but also “the scientific reserve of the West”. The Generation of ’48 was especially excited about this project, in which several renowned Spanish scientists played a crucial role.