Associate Professor of Economic and Social History, University of Zaragoza (Spain)
I am currently working with my colleague Vicente Pinilla on a book about rural depopulation in twentieth-century Spain. By 1950, the Spanish economy was still largely dependent on agriculture and about one half of the country's 27 million inhabitants lived in rural areas. During the following four decades, however, Spain's fast transition towards economic and social modernity was witness to one of the most extreme processes of rural depopulation in Europe. In the space of a generation, Spain's rural population fell by more than 25 per cent. Because initial population densities were in many rural communities already low (by European standards), large parts of the country became demographic deserts. The book explores the combination of economic, social and political factors leading to rural depopulation, as well as its consequences.
Open-air sports (soccer and running, in particular), books, music, movies, chess.
Favorite Historical Figure
Stefan Zweig, the Austrian writer (1881-1942). In addition to writing a series of wonderful novels, short stories, biographies and essays, he struggled to defend humanistic values at a time when they were coming under strong attack by wars and totalitarianism. Read his autobiography, The World of Yesterday.
Favorite Agricultural/Rural Movie
"Los santos inocentes" (I think that the English title was "The holy innocents"), a 1984 Spanish movie directed by Mario Camus. Based on the novel by Miguel Delibes, it tells the story of a poor family in the hierarchical rural society prevailing in large parts of Spain well into the twentieth century.
The book that I would choose is also by Miguel Delibes — "El camino" (I do not know if there is an English translation — it would be something like "The trail" or "The path"). Written in 1950, it is a beautiful story about a boy growing up in a rural environment.