Breaking the silence: Palaeontology and evolution in La Vanguardia Española (1939-1975)
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Universidad de Granada
Evolutionary theoryDarwinismFrancoismScience and dictatorshipCensorshipScience and the pressSynthetic theoryTeoría evolucionistaDarwinismoFranquismoCiencia y dictaduraCensuraCiencia y prensaTeoría sintética
Florensa, C. «Breaking the Silence : Palaeontology and Evolution in La Vanguardia Española (1939-1975)». Dynamis: Acta Hispanica Ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam, Vol. 33, Núm. 2, 1, p. 297-20.
All traces of evolutionary theories had been removed from the Spanish public sphere during the late stages of the Civil War and early Francoism. Darwin’s books were cleared from the shelves of libraries and bookshops and evolutionism was replaced by creationism in primary and higher education manuals. In the public sphere, there was a mixture of concepts concerning evolution that were borrowed from different evolutionary theories, some of them outdated. Talking about evolution in the press meant talking in a nineteenthcentury manner about the ape origin of man, materialism and threat to the Catholic faith. In other words, evolution was something unpleasant and dangerous. In this context, certain Spanish palaeontologists went to considerable lengths to try and avoid all of this bad popular imaginary (linking it to Darwinism), and to rehabilitate evolutionism from a finalistic-theistic point of view, which fitted in well with the ideology of the Franco regime. This effort, which succeeded in bringing evolutionism back into the public sphere following a period of «evolutionary silence», was relegated to second place when a new period of regime openness came about. The more scientific jargon of genetics and Modern Synthesis, which was less conducive to origins and theological discussion, fitted in better with the aims of the new regime, thus changing public scientific authority from bones to genes. This paper highlights the ongoing process of the appropriation of evolutionary theory through the case study of the presence and treatment during Francoism of the theory of evolution in the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia Española.