Event Date: 15 – 17 May 2019
Richmond University – The American University in London
Richmond TW10 6JP
A Century of Radical Right Extremism: New Approaches
Dr Louie Dean Valencia-Garcia (Texas State University) – Refreshing and Reloading the ‘Reconquest’: The Radical Right, El Cid, and Alternative and Cyclical History in the Digital Age
Beginning with the founding the Falange Española in 1933 by José Antonio Primo de Rivera and continuing through the digital age, this paper analyzes how the concept of ‘history’ has been understood by the Radical Right in Spain through a case study of the use of the Christian ‘Reconquest’ from the Moors (completed in 1492). During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), when General Francisco Franco set his base in the Castilian City of Burgos, Franco imbued new meaning into the city which had historically been the home of the medieval figure of ‘El Cid’. Since that time, the image of the 11th century warrior and ruler has been used to laud the expulsion of Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula and the triumph of Christian Europe, despite El Cid having been a mercenary who both ruled and fought with Muslims himself. In Burgos, Franco was able to take Primo de Rivera’s Falangism, and meld it with his particularly fascistic interpretation of medieval Catholicism to create his ‘National Catholicism’. As late as the 2000s, Skinhead groups in Burgos have use the image of El Cid to laud an imagined Castilian Identity. Concurrently, an annual week-long, city-sponsored festival that celebrates El Cid is held in the area surrounding a Cid statue (dedicated in 1954) located at the city’s centre. Today, in an era laden with Islamophobic anxieties rising, appropriation of the language of “reconquest” is being used by groups such as ADÑ, the latest rebranding of the Falange party, as well as groups such as the British branch of Generation Identity. This paper gives insights into understand how the radical right legitimates itself through the use of history—to remember and impose an imagined notion of a ‘traditional’ Europe.