Edited By Flocel Sabaté
Spain/ France: Reciprocal Images during the Restoration Period (1875–1931): Paul Aubert
Beyond the memory of Spain’s diplomatic and material dependence on its geographical neighbor, which provides a basis for severe inequalities, and the interest in studying the consolidation and use of stereotypical representations that are confirmed again during times of crisis, we have tried to understand and explain the causes and consequences of a French-Spanish misunderstanding that persists in different forms during the Restoration period, at an official level as well as in intellectual spheres. The heated debate it sparked conceals France’s loss of real influence at the outset of World War I.
Spain and France usually represented as two countries opposite in every way (the first embodied obscurantism, monarchy, clericalism and reaction, in other words the past; the second, from this point of view, symbolized science, industry, democracy, secularism and progress, hence the future) but that react according to the image they have, or that they believe they have, in the neighboring country. The descriptions of the French and Spanish pavilions during the Universal Expositions in Paris (1855, 1867, 1878, 1889 and 1900) are significant in this regard: Spanish visitors saw in France the symbol of an industrial civilization, whilst the French found in the Spanish representation the traditional image of a museum-country.1 ← 147 | 148 → We could also counter pose the image of a catholic France to that of a Spain full of conspirators, and hostage to social agitation. “The country, so quiet and apparently sleeping, lives under the constant...
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