Cities of concrete. Literature, film and urbanization in the Franco period, 1939-1975

Start - End 
2018 - 2021 (ongoing)



From the late 1940s, cities in Spain began to grow rapidly. The mass migration of rural inhabitants resulted in the emergence of slums and shantytowns in the outskirts of the cities. The Franco regime, initially hostile to urban areas, which it saw as antithetical to its vision of society, sought to combat this phenomenon and developed a series of urban plans in an attempt to regulate—and segregate—the city. The urban discourses of the period were complex, however, and the government also encouraged, and facilitated, the construction of massive and uniform apartment complexes, which changed the face of the city. Unsurprisingly, cultural production in this period does not ignore these radical transformations. Throughout the Franco dictatorship, novelists and filmmakers interrogated aspects of the new city, often using novel forms and narrative techniques to do so, such as neorealism, science fiction, etc. The goal of this project is to analyse in what ways these narratives engaged with the Francoist city. It will argue that literature and film did not merely reflect the changing city. Rather, novelists and filmmakers actively participated in the creation of the imaginary around the city, by adopting, subverting and challenging urban discourses of the time. By looking at both Madrid and Barcelona, the project will seek to provide a full picture of the cultural reactions to Spain’s large-scale urbanization during the Franco period. 





Diana Arbaiza

Universiteit Antwerpen