“Franco’s regionalisme from Catalonia: centripetal practices and discourses” (PID2021-125227NB-I00) is about the collaboration spaces, proposals, discourses and cohabitation carried out by the regional elites during the Franco’s regime, especially – but not exclusively – in Catalonia. Its role as a kneecap and an intermediary between the interests and traditions of the territories and the project of modernization and sophistication of the dictatorship during the so-called desarrollismo was fundamental. Thus, the analysis of the role played by these collaborative elites more than just extractive ones should allow us to better understand the complex political, economic, social, and cultural transformations of the second half of the 20th century in Spain.

Our hypothesis considers that the groups that emerged from the collaboration and imbrication (political, social, and family) between part of the local leaders and the growing peripheral civil service, participated in the governance and updating / modernization of the country, articulating a kind of centripetal regionalism, and maintaining its influence beyond the Democratic Transition. As the journalist Josep Maria Ruiz Simón recently wrote, “the most alert elites of Francos regime, aware that their future also depended on this hunt, saw regionalism as a weapon loaded with future”. In addition, this process was synchronized with an international context of prioritization of the regional economy, the modernization of bureaucracies and strategic planning.

In other words, this project is original because, in the first place, it incorporates a more complex vision of Franco’s regionalism and the formation of its elites. It addresses both the influence of regionalism that emerged under the protection of power during the construction of modern Catalonia, as well as its impact on the configuration of the contemporary Spanish state, culture and art and identity. Second, the project addresses the formation of these elites from a new perspective, as it highlights both the continuities with respect to the previous local ruling groups and the emergence of new ones during the dictatorship, and their symbiosis with the high official and the national elites. Finally, the Catalan case allows a comparison with other Spanish regions and groups and, in this sense, deepens the knowledge of this historical period. Moreover, despite the female subordination in these professional and power circles, some of the proposed investigations allow combat the double invisibility with which the role of women is often characterized: because the impact in the private sphere is not considered and the presence in the public sphere is underestimated.

This approach also gives continuity to our previous project focused on the discourses and practices of regionalism in Catalonia under Franco’s regime (HAR2017-87957-P). Our investigations were centered in how the dictatorship used a “regionalismo bien entendido” to legitimize its own project, re-signify traditions, incorporate personnel, and connect with a certain modernity. The findings obtained in this project have made clear to us the need to give continuity to our research by focusing on the regional elites who took advantage of Franco’s collaboration and / or permissiveness to promote and appear in symbiotic initiatives that were beneficial to both parties and that conditioned the subsequent evolution of the country.