"Writing and Re-Writing the Working-Class Experience in Barcelona, 1888-1923"

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0002-2155-2934
Jeffress, Alexa, Spanish - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Anderson, Andrew, AS-Spanish, Italian & Portuguese, University of Virginia
Amago, Samuel, AS-Spanish, Italian & Portuguese, University of Virginia
Gerli, E. Michael, AS-Spanish, Italian & Portuguese, University of Virginia
Sicoli, Mark, AS-Anthropology, University of Virginia

This project explores the way in which films and novels from the period of 1975-1990 portray the working-class experience in the industrial capital of Spain at the turn of the twentieth century while simultaneously offering a commentary on the contemporary social, political, and economic scene of the Transition. Between 1888 and 1923, Spain participated directly in colonial wars in the Americas and in Africa, and it indirectly and unofficially participated in World War I. At the same time, Barcelona was undergoing an intense period of industrialization that entailed an increase in production in electrical plants, textile factories, and more. During this time, the working class was adversely affected by low wages, long working hours, military conscription, high inflation, lowered purchasing power, and the threat of unemployment. While these circumstances were true for much of Spain to some degree, it is in Barcelona that industrialization and the three wars had the strongest impact, leading to general unrest fueled by the formation of trade unions, increased action from the anarchists, working-class strikes, and bourgeois intervention. At the same time that the they portray events of the past, cultural representations dialogue with the time period contemporary to their production. In this project, I analyze the ways in which Eduardo Mendoza, Antoni Ribas, and Antoni Verdaguer offer commentary on the period of the Spanish Transition to democracy, which was both politically and economically unstable and saw renewed trade union action. Through cinema and novels, these native Barcelona creators offer a way to understand the present situation by means of the past, at the same time that they reveal anxieties about what is to come in Barcelona’s future. Questions of power imbalance and class differences surfaced during the Transition as a new constitution was enacted and democracy established. As the new political system was created – much like during the Restoration period – people began to question who would hold power and whose voices would be brought to the fore.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Catalan, Catalunya, Barcelona , Eduardo Mendoza, Antoni Ribas, Tragic Week, Semana trágica, anarchy, trade unions, Spanish-American War , Rif War, Spanish film, Catalan film, La teranyina, Restoration, Restauración, Generalitat
Issued Date: