|Bolstering the Greatness of the Homeland: The Shaping of Specialist Medical Fields in Francoist Spain and their Impact on the Social Identity of the People with Disabilities|
|The end of the Civil War (1936) with the victory of the rebel troops led by General Franco, led to a period of Spanish history which was considerably different from the one immediately before. In order to consolidate its power, in the midst of a background of economic strife and demographic crisis, the new dictatorship needed to start a process of political control that combined three facets: establishing an enormous bureaucratic apparatus to legitimise its legality; supporting tradition; and the charismatic authority of the head of State. In order to achieve this, numerous coercive and/or ideological institutions were set up and developed, among which the Catholic Church played a key role in the attempt to control civil society.
This work aims to look at how this new context of “National-Catholicism” conditioned the way in which various environmental determinants helped shape the way in which the problem of disability was tackled. The insistence of the social nature of the new State resulted in a policy on the part of a regime that encouraged corporativism which would eliminate the class struggle and lead to idyllic relations with the civil society, and which was subjected to the common goal of increasing production and therefore the wealth of the Homeland. An example of this was the Fuero del Trabajo –one of the eight “fundamental laws” of Francoism-, which extolled the value of productive activity and which stated that it was a right resulting from a duty imposed on Man by God. At the same time, it announced that the new State would promote social protection, expressly highlighting that related to occupational accidents and disability.
We aim to analyse the way in which the activity of the doctors in charge of treating people with disability formed part of this context. We shall attempt to highlight how the discourse of experts formed part of a wider context which highlighted the potential danger that disability posed for the aims of the Francoist regime and how it was moulded to fit the fundamental principles of the same. Thus, we shall study the cases of the victims of occupational accidents, of the children with intellectual impairments and those suffering from poliomyelitis. By looking at legislative sources and publications produced by the doctors and the practices that they carried out in the institutions set up to deal with the problem of disability, not only shall we illustrate how the Francoist governments supported the changes in the medical profession that defended the experts treating the disabled, but we also aim to highlight the consequences of this for people labelled as “abnormal or “disabled”|