From Juan, el Negro to invisible heroes: Diverging perspectives on African Americans in the Spanish civil war

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter studies the depiction of black brigadiers and their participation in the Spanish Civil War in two very different and chronologically separated works. The 1974 novel Juan, el Negro, written by Falangist Domingo Manfredi Cano, seems to be a belated effort to justify the Nationalist coup d’état that unleashed the war. To ridicule the brigadiers’ ideals, the black protagonist is clearly cast in an anti-heroic and immoral light. Moreover, his dehumanized representation resorts to primitivist images and stereotypes associated with a hypersexualized manhood. The degrading depiction of black masculinity in the novel contrasts sharply with the one reflected in Invisible Heroes: African-Americans in the Spanish Civil War (2015). This recent documentary establishes a very palpable link between colonialism, the Spanish Civil War, and the US Civil Rights Movement. Furthermore, it challenges stereotypes about black masculinity by portraying African Americans’ search for identity as full citizens, something that their participation in a global project, in spite of the lynching and segregation at home, enabled them to envision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBlack USA and Spain
Subtitle of host publicationShared Memories in the 20th Century
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780429595516
ISBN (Print)9780367182724
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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