The Engaging Power of English-Language Promotion in Franco's Spain

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  • Óscar José Martín García
  • ,
  • Francisco J. Rodríguez Jiménez, University of Salamanca, Real Colegio Complutense, Harvard University, Spain
The United States’ support for the Franco dictatorship, along with British dominion over Gibraltar, caused an increasing sense of frustration towards the United States and United Kingdom amongst broad sectors of the Spanish public during the 1960s and 1970s. Growing resentment towards the Anglo-American presence in Spain threatened to jeopardise the geopolitical objectives of these two governments given the strategic importance of the Iberian Peninsula in the Cold War. Both the Americans and the British identified the promotion of the English language as a cultural tool to develop empathy amongst those Spaniards who would drive forward the eventual transition to a post-Franco era. This ‘soft power’ strategy fit perfectly with the pro-modernisation efforts taking place in several parts of the world. English teaching did not serve as a magic potion, however. Cultural seduction was not a cure-all to right the wrongs inflicted by the Anglo-American geostrategic priorities. This article explores the benefits and limitations of English language promotion in Franco’s Spain and reflects on the ability of ‘soft power’ to influence what was a rather hostile hard-power context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalContemporary European History
Pages (from-to)415-435
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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