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White Gypsies

White Gypsies: Race and Stardom in Spanish Musicals

Eva Woods Peiró
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    White Gypsies
    Book Description:

    White Gypsies shows how the Spanish folkloric musical films of the 1940s and ’50s are inextricably tied to anxious concerns about race—especially, but not only, Gypsiness. Eva Woods Peiró reveals how these imaginary individuals constituted a veritable cultural barometer of how racial thinking was projected and understood across a broad swath of popular Spanish cinema.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7949-2
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Modernity, Race, and Visibility
    (pp. 1-30)

    White Gypsiestraces the development of a racialized vision whose most salient expression manifested itself through Gypsy-face and racialized characters in early to mid-twentieth-century Spanish folkloric musical comedy films. High racial visibility contrasting with a marked valuation on whiteness provided the audiences of these box office hits with ideological solutions to the “problem” of race and its protracted debates since the mid-nineteenth century. Historically cast as ethnoreligious blood purity or as a racial alloy of different cultures, Spain’s difference had been either denied (we have no problem with race) or experienced through the fantasy windows of literature and film (Martin-Márquez,...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Time, Racial Otherness, and Digressions in Silent Films of the 1920s
    (pp. 31-64)

    The time-based medium of film visualized Spain’s need to “catch up” to European time by erasing boundaries between itself and Europe while drawing more clearly the barrier between Spain and Africa. The preoccupation with race, coupled with a stardom narrative that portrayed the whitewashed yet ethnicized female as a conveyor of modernity, was a naturalized element of the folkloric musical comedy films of the thirties and beyond. In the 1910s and 1920s, however, this feature had already joined the mix of musical entertainment sequences and dominant plotlines of silent film. To be sure, folkloric musical film had its origins in...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Female Spectacle in the Display Case of the Roaring Twenties
    (pp. 65-100)

    The display of women’s bodies in moving film was born when cinematic ethnography met the cinema of attractions, or short actualities, which thrilled audiences with shockingly immediate versions of reality. Such early cinema combined features of erotic performance, the erotic novel, shopping window displays, printed pornographic ephemera, and the various practices of local sex businesses. In the sexualization of these spaces and their association with the popular, lowbrow, mass-taste systems of entertainment, “class, gender and race circulated promiscuously and crossed with each other” (Young, xii). Stereotypes based on racial exoticism and vampirism mutually inflected and reinforced stereotypes of excessive female...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Racing for Modernity: From Black Jazz to White Gypsy Folklore
    (pp. 101-144)

    The colonial failure of 1898 and the protracted conflict with Morocco, in particular the Spanish losses in the battle of Annual and the Rif rebellion, played themselves out through popular nostalgia in the mass media of the twenties and thirties, where manufactured notions of biological destiny (and infirmity) justified Spain’s need to conquer and black Africa’s need to be conquered.¹ Popular theatre spectacle, in tune with the turbulent filmic and literary modernity of the twenties, imagined who performed identity (whiteness or blackness), whopassed, and who would be successful enough to actually live out the fiction of becoming. Benito Perojo’s...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Gypsy Problem: Law and Spatial Assimilation
    (pp. 145-184)

    From the 1930s until the 1950s, law and otherness were mediated by the spatiality and comedic language of Andalusian musical comedy. This chapter analyzes three films in which white Gypsies represent the assimilation of Spain’s racial internal Other by a legitimate national visual idiom:Morena Clara(dir. Florián Rey, 1936),Canelita en rama(dir. Eduardo García Maroto, 1943), andEl caballero andaluz(dir. Luis Lucía, 1954).¹ The stories of these folklóricas parallel the legal narrative used to validate the real political regime. The Gypsies’ position within the Spanish legal framework—outside the law yet perpetually breaking that law—is reflected...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Spanish Solution: The Folklórica and the Führer
    (pp. 185-222)

    With the full collaboration of Spanish Nationalists, Florián Rey and Benito Perojo made five films in Nazi Germany’s UFA studios between 1937 and 1939:Carmen, la de Triana(Rey, 1938),El barbero de Sevilla(Perojo, 1938),Suspiros de España(Perojo, 1938),La canción de Aixa(Rey, 1939), andMariquilla Terremoto(Perojo, 1939). With the exception ofLa canción de Aixa, an orientalist musical comedy starring Imperio Argentina and set in Morocco, the films provide thoroughly Andalusian folkloric fare.¹ This Berlinesque intermission in the careers of Rey and Perojo, which cemented the Spanish–German venture Hispano-Film-Produktion (HFP) and produced a series...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Recycling Folklóricas: A Queer Spain
    (pp. 223-250)

    As we have seen, a defining feature of Andalusian folkloric films is their simultaneous emphasis on stories of progress (stardom) embedded within heteronormative romance and an exclusionary racial discourse that haunts their utopian elements. Those who have condemned these films as Fascist preindustrial comedies fail to recognize narrative elements that contradict Fascism, National Catholicism, and the notion of a precapitalist Spain. For these films celebrate the world of the stage, referencing a cosmopolitan lifestyle instead of the nuclear family, and showcase female roles that were anathema to Francoist womanhood. They favor secular romance, not religious matrimony, and laud capitalist ambition...

  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 251-252)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 253-278)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 279-300)
  14. Filmography
    (pp. 301-308)
  15. Index
    (pp. 309-337)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 338-338)