Hispanidad (Spanish: [is.pa.ni'ðað], "Hispanicity") is an expression with several meanings, loosely alluding to the group of people, countries and communities sharing the Spanish language and displaying a Spanish-related culture. The term traces back to the early modern period but was redefined by Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno in 1909. The term "Hispanity" is a term that regards to a multiethnic community of countries of the Spanish Empire.
According to the philosopher and writer Julían Marías, the Spanish American territories were not only colonies but also extensions of Spain that mixed with the native American peoples, with whom Europeans intermarried, creating a multicultural society.
The term has been used in the early modern period and is in the Tractado de orthographía y accentos en las tres lenguas principales by Alejo Venegas, printed in 1531, to mean "style of linguistic expression". It was used, with a similar meaning, in the 1803 edition of the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy as a synonym of Hispanismo (Hispanism), which, in turn, was defined as "the peculiar speech of the Spanish language".
In the early 20th century, the term was revived, with several new meanings. Its reintroduction is attributed to Unamuno in 1909, who used the term again on 11 March 1910, in an article, La Argentinidad, published in a newspaper in Argentina, La Nación. He compared the term to other similar expressions: argentinidad, americanidad, españolidad and italianidad.
Unamuno linked the concept to the multiplicity of peoples speaking the Spanish language, which encompassed in turn his idea of La Raza, gave it an egalitarian substrate and questioned the very status of motherland for Spain; he claimed the need of approaching Spanish American republics in terms of sisterhood (opposing "primacies" and "maternities").
Further development of the concept had to wait for the 1920s, when a group of intellectuals was influenced by the ideas of ultranationalist French thinker Charles Maurras and rescued the term. As a precedent, the Spanish writer José María Salaverría, who lived in Argentina between 1910 and 1913, would have implicitly the idea of an Hispanic community, comparable to Hispanidad, but the leading status of Spain in the community is however a moot point in his work. The term was used by Spanish priest Zacarías de Vizcarra, who was living in Buenos Aires. He proposed in 1926 that the expression Fiesta de la Raza should be changed to Fiesta de la Hispanidad.
Cover of the first edition of Defensa de la Hispanidad (1934), by Ramiro de Maeztu.
During the Second Spanish Republic, Spanish monarchist author Ramiro de Maeztu, who had been the ambassador to Argentina between 1928 and 1930, considered the concept of Hispanidad, motivated by the interests aroused on him by Argentine-related topics, and the meetings between him and the attendants to the courses of Catholic culture as nationalist, Catholic and anti-liberal. Maeztu explained his doctrine of Hispanidad in his work Defensa de la Hispanidad (1934); he thought it was a spiritual world that united Spain and its former colonies by the Spanish language and Catholicism. He attributed the concept to Vizcarra, instead of Unamuno. In the Hispanidad of Maeztu, the Christian and humanist features that would identify Hispanic peoples would replace rationalism, liberalism and democracy, which he called alien to the Hispanic ethos. His work "relentlessly" linked Catholicism and Hispanidad and was highly influential with Argentine nationalists and the Spanish far right, including Francoism. Although declaredly antiracist because of its Catholic origin, the sense of racial egalitarianism in the Maeztu's idea of the Hispanidad was restricted to the scope of heavenly salvation.
Primate Gomá defended the ideas of Vizcarra and Maeztu.
Spanish PrimateIsidro Gomá y Tomás issued in Argentina, on 12 October 1934, a Maeztu-inspired manifesto, Apology of the Hispanidad:
"America is the work of Spain. This work by Spain is essentially of Catholic nature. Hence, there is a relation of equality between Hispanidad and Catholicism, and it is madness any attempt of Hispanidad disowing that relation".
"América es la obra de España. Esta obra de España lo es esencialmente de catolicismo. Luego hay relación de igualdad entre hispanidad y catolicismo, y es locura todo intento de hispanización que lo repudie."
Franco created the Council of the Hispanidad on 2 November 1940. It was thought at first to be a sort of supranational institution, and it ended up being a council of 74 members, charged with the task of coordinating the relations with Latin America. The Hispanidad became the source of an expansive nationalism (first imperialist and then cultural). Besides its character both as national identitary element and as stalwart of Catholicism, Francoism would use the Hispanidad in international relations.
The Council of the Hispanidad would become the Institute of Hispanic Culture [es] in 1946 and change from a more Falangist profile to a more Catholic one. That happened within a framework of a general change in the doctrine of the Hispanidad between 1945 and 1947, with Alberto Martín-Artajo at the helm of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The message then became more defensive and less aggressive, with fewer mentions of "empire" and "race" (biological). Afterwards, later in the Francoist dictatorship, the regime, then less constrained by the international community, recovered more aggressive rhetorics, but it failed to reach the full extent of when Ramón Serrano Suñer was Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In 1958, the Day of the Race was renamed to Day of the Hispanidad in Spain.
In Argentina, one of the few countries with good relations with Francoist Spain after the end of World War II, President Juan Domingo Perón defended the concept of Hispanidad by highlighting the Hispanic roots of Argentina. However, Peronism began to detach itself from the idea from 1950 to 1954 period to replace it with Latinidad (Latinity).
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