Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Science Communication in 20th Century Europe

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Projekte | Science Communication in 20th Century Europe | Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente’s Cross-Platform Broadcasting of Nature in A Context of Social, Political and Cultural Transformation in Spain, 1962-1980

Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente’s Cross-Platform Broadcasting of Nature in A Context of Social, Political and Cultural Transformation in Spain, 1962-1980

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Carlos Tabernero (Autonomous University, Barcelona, Spain)


The main character: Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente (1928-1980)

physician, falconer, naturalist, author, editor, and radio and TV director, producer and broadcaster

Personal key features:

passion for nature, the natural sciences, conservationism, ethology; downright penchant for the educational/informative and creative possibilities of mass audiovisual media (film, radio and television)


Context key features (re his way to success)

skillful navigation of Spanish politics and institutions through the 1960s and 1970s, including

  • Franco and the soon-to-become and later King Juan Carlos I themselves;
  • the Departments of Agriculture and of Information and Tourism;
  • some influential scholars, such as José Antonio Valverde and Francisco Bernis Madrazo, also cofounders of the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/BirdLife);
  • some environmental NGOs, such as SEO/BirdLife and WWF/Adena (currently WWF/Spain); and
  • the state-owned radio and then-only television broadcasting corporations (Radio Nacional de España – RNE; Televisión Española – TVE; Radiotelevisión Española – RTVE), as well as a few publishing companies (mainly Editorial Salvat)


a highly influential and controversial representation of nature (through conservationist and ethological premises) and the natural sciences (as a discipline and as a profession) through numerous publications, from encyclopedias to comic strips, as well as radio and television programs.


a staple of the media landscape and a highly charismatic character in 1970s Spain. And later on, a sort of myth, however conflicting, in part as a consequence of his premature death in a plane crash while shooting a documentary in Canada.


his works, and primarily his Man and the Earth, Iberian Fauna TV series
(1973-1980), contributed not only to the popularization of the natural sciences and of
conservationist viewpoints, but also to the overall transformation of the Spanish society
at the time of the regime change.

Research questions

  1. What kind of education and entertainment techniques did he use? How do these account for his (enduring) success and controversy?
  2. What is the role in these processes of (a) his elaborate construction and exploitation of his own status as a celebrity, and (b) the multidimensional embedding of his media pieces in people’s everyday lives?
  3. How did, if so, these elements contribute to the social, political and cultural transformation of the Spanish society in the 1970s? Did his media output contribute to a process of ‘scientification of the Spanish society’?
  4. If so, to what extent did his media output participate in such processes by suggesting, staging and conveying somehow newly-offered/gained ways of knowledge management?



1. About Rodríguez de la Fuente’s life and works (in Spanish)

  • Pou, Miguel (1995). Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente. El hombre y su obra. Barcelona: Planeta
  • Pou, Miguel (2008). La conciencia planetaria de Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente. Propuestas de un genio a la sociedad. Madrid: Rueda
  • Rodríguez Jiménez, Fernando L. (2006). Así se hizo: 1. El Hombre y la Tierra. Madrid: Naturaventur
  • Salcedo de Prado, Miriam (2008). El documental de divulgación científica sobre la naturaleza: técnicas narrativo-dramáticas y retóricas empleadas por Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente en ‘El  ombre y la Tierra’. Pamplona: Universidad de Navarra
  • Varillas, Benigno (2010). Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente. Su vida, mensaje de futuro. Madrid: Fundación Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente/La Esfera de los Libros


2. Some references concerning the analytical perspectives

  • Bousé, D. (2000) Wildlife films. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press
  • Brockington, Dan (2008). “Powerful environmentalisms: conservation, celebrity and capitalism”. Media, Culture & Society 30(4): 551-568
  • Chris, C. (2000) Watching wildlife. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
  • Couldry, Nick (2004) “Theorising Media as Practice”. Social Semiotics 14(2): 115–32
  • de Certeau, Michel (1984). The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press
  • Dingwall, Robert; Aldridge, Meryl (2006). “Television wildlife programming as a source of popular scientific information: a case study of evolution”. Public Understanding of Science 15: 131-152
  • Fiske, John (1994). Media Matters: Everyday Culture and Political Change. Minneapolis: University of Minnessota Press
  • “Focus: Historicizing ‘Popular Science’” (2009) Isis 100(2): 310-368
  • Papanelopoulou, Faidra; Nieto-Galan, Agustí; Perdiguero, Enrique (eds.) (2009). Popularizing Science and Technology in the European Periphery, 1800–2000. Farnham (U.K.); Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate
  • Silverstone, Roger (1994). Television and everyday life. London: Routledge
  • Thompson, John B. (1995). The Media and Modernity. A Social Theory of Media. Cambridge: Polity Press