Us and Them: British and Gibraltarian Colonialism in the Campo de Gibraltar c. 1900–1954

Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Political Sociology book series (PSEPS)


This chapter explores briefly some of the ways in which the border between Gibraltar and Spain facilitated economic, cultural, and social penetration of the Campo de Gibraltar in the first half of the twentieth century. The border simultaneously represented and facilitated an economic relationship that led to a cordial and symbiotic social and cultural relationship between Gibraltar and the Campo. But the profound economic imbalance between the two communities—exacerbated by the operation of that border—also created a situation in which Gibraltar would dominate the Campo economically, and in so doing begin to foster a neo-colonial relationship across the frontier. The chapter notes the Franco regime’s attempt to create a narrative of an ‘exploitative’ British Gibraltar and, whilst critiquing the motives for (and tone of) this propaganda, demonstrates the myriad ways in which British power was indeed exerted in the Campo in this period. The concept of ‘informal empire’ is useful to a point in describing this relationship, but more easily demonstrable is the existence of a British ‘colonial mentality’ towards neighbouring Spain (and Spaniards), carrying with it notions of superiority, racism, and economic and even sexual exploitation. The chapter ends with a reflection on how these British colonial mentalities were absorbed by Gibraltar’s civilian population, and the implications this had for Gibraltarians’ sense of identity, and sense of ‘difference’ from their previously close Spanish neighbours. The exercise of sexual power and exploitation across the frontier is highlighted as a particularly fruitful area for consideration.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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