Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Larson

Second Advisor

Dr. Matthew Losada


In 2008, Spain’s financial crisis had a great impact on the primary sector on which the nation’s ‘economic miracle’ was founded: housing.Land speculation, the increase in housing construction, and easy loans had become one of the hallmarks of twenty-first-century Spanish identity. The crisis del ladrillo (“brick crisis”) plunged the national economy into chaos and condemned many Spanish citizens to job insecurity, loss of earning power, threat of eviction, and put them at high risk of social marginalization. This dissertation studies the unusual proliferation of documentary films during the years surrounding this economic downturn about the ghettoization of the Spanish Gypsy population; a marginalization that was also indebted to the earlier economic development policies of the Franco regime and continued as Spain entered more fully into the free market in the late 1950s. As a result of Spain’s global socioeconomic exclusion due to the housing crisis, however, the Spanish Gypsy emerged in documentary film as a social actor who represented a reality that was no longer exclusive to the Other, but common to all.

This project consists of a detailed analysis of three documentary films: Polígono Sur: el arte de Las Tres Mil (2002), Can Tunis (2006)and Una casa para Bernarda Alba (2011), all of which attempt to reconstruct national identity in an age of financial downturnthrough a shared emphasis on the spaces of exclusion experienced by gitanos (Gypsies). Informed by spatial theory, post-colonial studies, critical discourse analysis and theories of representation of the Other in film, the purpose of this research is to unveil the dialectical negotiation that is established between neoliberal discourse, economic crisis, and the experience of its victims (both Gypsies and non-Gypsies) in spaces of shared conflict: shanty towns, slums and housing projects. The findings of this dissertation are twofold: that the appropriation of the Gypsy population’s experiences by these documentaries reflects and at times continues legacies of internal colonization while, simultaneously, these films point the way toward representational strategies that open the door to the narratives of those who have been silenced under neoliberalism.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)