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Impurity of Blood

Defining Race in Spain, 1870-1930

Joshua Goode

Publication Year: 2009

Although Francisco Franco courted the Nazis as allies during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, the Spanish dictator’s racial ideals had little to do with the kind of pure lineage that obsessed the Nazis. Indeed, Franco’s idea of race—that of a National Catholic state as the happy meeting grounds of many different peoples willingly blended together—differed from most European conceptions of race in this period and had its roots in earlier views of Spanish racial identity from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In Impurity of Blood, Joshua Goode traces the development of racial theories in Spain from 1870 to 1930 in the burgeoning human science of anthropology and in political and social debates, exploring the counterintuitive Spanish proposition that racial mixture rather than racial purity was the bulwark of national strength. Goode begins with a history of ethnic thought in Spain in the medieval and early modern era, and then details the formation of racial thought in Spain’s nascent human sciences. He goes on to explore the political, social, and cultural manifestations of racial thought at the dawn of the Franco regime and, finally, discusses its ramifications in Francoist Spain and post–World War II Europe. In the process, he brings together normally segregated historiographies of race in Europe. Goode analyzes the findings of Spanish racial theorists working to forge a Spanish racial identity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when race and racial sciences were most in vogue across Europe. Spaniards devised their own racial identities using scientifically substantiated racial ideas and confronted head-on the apparent limitations of Spain’s history by considering them as the defining characteristics of la raza española. The task of the Spanish social sciences was to trace the history of racial fusion: to study both the separate elements of the Spanish composition and the factors that had nurtured them. Ultimately, by exploring the development of Spanish racial thought between 1870 and 1930, Goode demonstrates that national identity based on mixture—the inclusion rather than the exclusion of different peoples—did not preclude the establishment of finely wrought and politically charged racial hierarchies. Providing a new comprehensive view of racial thought in Spain and its connections to the larger twentieth-century formation of racial thought in the West, Impurity of Blood will enlighten and inform scholars of Spanish and European history, racial theory, historical anthropology, and the history of science.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-xii

This project began, presumably like many others, with a brief conversation between student and graduate advisor. In my case, because my advisor did not work on Spanish history, I worried particularly about speaking in terms broad enough to be interesting. I offered a nervous recitation of the idea, waited through an anxious moment of silence, and finally received for ...

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1 The Racial Alloy: The Meanings and Uses of Racial Identity in Late-Nineteenthand Early-Twentieth-Century Spain

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pp. 1-19

Franco’s screenplay Raza remains famous today mostly as a curiosity, a mediocre film written by a dictator not normally associated with literary pursuits.1 Almost always overlooked in the discussion of the film is the meaning of the title Franco chose: Raza (Race). What could a Spanish dictator who had courted the Nazis allies in the Spanish Civil War mean by the word “race”? Franco’s racial ideals certainly ...

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2 Finding a Science in the Mystery of Race in Spain

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pp. 20-34

In 1971, the historian of Spain and Latin America Frederick Pike offered the then standard summation of the meaning of raza, a view that had been held for the previous one hundred years: “A fundamental characteristic of Spaniards has always been the unassailable conviction that there are fundamental characteristics of the Spanish people. . . . And it has never mattered in the least whether there is scientific ...


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3 Race and the Emergence of Physical Anthropology: The Predominant Head, 1875–1894

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pp. 37-75

The scientific inquiry into race began in the late 1860s and exploded in the years between 1870 and 1900. In Spain, as in its European counterparts, the racial sciences began against the backdrop of liberal optimism that science might solve many of the intractable social problems brought on by modernization and industrialization. Even amidst the political ferment in Spain ...

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4 How Spain Became Invertebrate: Race, Regeneration, and the Expansion of Anthropology, 1894–1917

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pp. 76-96

By the 1890s, Spanish anthropology had gone from the speculative science of a few exiled doctors to one at the cusp of offering political plans and responses to social pressures in Spain. This chapter will consider the particular political and social purposes to which the new anthropological study of racial mixture was put in the period between 1890 and 1920. Specifically, this chapter ...

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5 Race, Regionalism, and the Colonies Within: Anthropology Confronts Spain’s Problems

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pp. 97-117

As anthropologists increasingly became convinced that racial fusion had been the modus operandi of the Spanish past, the challenge increasingly facing them was to identify the proper and improper elements of this fusion. Spain’s anthropologists saw the uniqueness of Spanish race as mixture, but how was it mixed? What were the components and how did they vary from region to region? ...


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6 Recruiting the Race: Military Applications of the Racial Mix

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pp. 121-142

At the end of the nineteenth century, the Spanish military appeared to be the reverse image of many other European fighting forces. Spain’s once vast overseas empire was consigned to history as Spain lost its colonies in Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico in 1898 in a devastating rout by the United States. This loss—still known succinctly today as the “Disaster”— provided the capstone ...

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7 Race Explains Crime: The Emergence of Criminal Anthropology, 1870–1914

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pp. 143-181

The scientific study of race in late-nineteenth-century Spain found its most active application in the fields of criminology and penal law.1 This was, in part, the result of the impact that anthropology and, to a larger degree, science were beginning to have on Spanish social and political discourse. In Spain, as in other European countries, politicians, intellectuals, and scientists ...

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8 Remaking a Good Fusion, Excising a Bad: The Jewish Repatriation Movement in Spain, 1890–1923

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pp. 182-206

The previous chapters have demonstrated that racial identity, as defined in anthropology and criminology, was a rather flexible concept. Most often the racial characteristics that were thought to define the nation or region reflected as much the particular interests and prejudices of the racial theorist as any objective interpretation of the scientific evidence. Race sometimes referred ...

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Epilogue: The Concept of Race Lingers

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pp. 207-218

This book has presented race in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth century Spain as a “mode” of viewing human differences that clearly did not rely on ideas of purity or obvious physical differences in appearance. Racial thought is contextual and dynamic, reflecting both the era in which it is expressed as well as an ever-shifting evaluation of the importance of human differences. ...


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pp. 219-265


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pp. 267-284


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pp. 285-295

E-ISBN-13: 9780807136645
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807135167

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2009