“Living like Queens”

Gender Conflict and Female Counter-Hegemony in Contemporary Cádiz Carnival


  • Katerina Sergidou PhD Candidate in Panteion University od Social and Political Science and University of Basque Country (cotutelle)




Carnival, Cádiz, Spain, gender, equality, dictatorship, democracy, feminism, counter-hegemony


This article focuses on the feminist mobilization that has characterized Cádiz Carnival since 2011, leading to the elimination of the Ninfas y Diosas (Nymphs and Goddesses) custom, a variant of the Reina de las Fiestas (Queen of Traditional Fiestas) ceremony introduced under Francisco Franco’s dictatorship (1939–75). By calling into question the representation of women in Carnival celebrations, female festive organizations have challenged the old, male-dominated festival traditions and transformed Cádiz Carnival. Their activism has carried over into everyday life, as female Carnival groups have created their own community and translated the artistic manifestations of their desire for equality into public policy. Using oral testimonies and archival material gathered during ethnographic fieldwork in the city, I trace the history of the reina and ninfas customs and analyze a variety of material related to their birth, evolution, and recent discontinuation. The ultimate purpose of this article is to map the tensions embedded in both the festival and contemporary Spanish society and to show how the Carnival stage can become a space where embodied feminist counter-hegemony is performed, thus contributing to the slow democratization of Spanish society.

Author Biography

Katerina Sergidou, PhD Candidate in Panteion University od Social and Political Science and University of Basque Country (cotutelle)

Katerina Sergidou grew up in Cyprus and lives in Athens. She studied history at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. She completed her MA in cultural studies at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences in Athens, conducting ethnographic research in the city of Cádiz. She is currently a doctoral candidate in social anthropology and feminist and gender studies at Panteion University and at the University of the Basque Country in San Sebastián. Her dissertation investigates women’s participation in Cádiz Carnival. Her PhD research is supported by the “Strengthening Human Resources Research Potential via Doctorate Research” (MIS-5000432) action of the Operational Program “Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning,” implemented by the State Scholarships Foundation (ΙΚΥ) and cofinanced by Greece and the European Union (European Social Fund, ESF).




How to Cite

Sergidou, Katerina. 2020. “‘Living Like Queens’: Gender Conflict and Female Counter-Hegemony in Contemporary Cádiz Carnival”. Journal of Festive Studies 2 (1):153-78. https://doi.org/10.33823/jfs.2020.2.1.34.