This book examines the contested representations of those murdered during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s in two small rural communities as they undergo the experience of exhumation, identification, and reburial from nearby mass graves. Based on interviews with relatives of the dead, community members and forensic archaeologists, it pays close attention to the role of excavated objects and images in breaking the pact of silence that surrounded the memory of these painful events for decades afterward. It also assesses the significance of archaeological and forensic practices in changing relationships between the living and dead. The exposure of graves has opened up a discursive space in Spanish society for multiple representations to be made of the war dead and of Spain's traumatic past.
Left Coast Press Inc
Country of Publication:
Series: UCL Institute of Archaeology Critical Cultural Heritage Series
15 August 2011
Preface: Exhumation and the Traumatic Past Introduction Chapter One: Republican Identity and Spanish Memory Politics Chapter Two: Memory Idioms and the Representation of Republican Loss within the Confines of a Francoist Discourse on the Past Chapter Three: Materialisations of the Dead before Exhumation Chapter Four: The Open Grave: Exposed Bodies and Objects in New Representations of the DeadChapter Five: Reburial and Enduring Materialisations of the Dead Conclusion
Layla Renshaw is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Life Sciences at Kingston University, UK, where she teaches forensic archaeology and anthropology. She has a PhD in anthropology from University College London. Her research interests include post-conflict investigations and representations of the traumatic past, the political and theoretical significance of forensic archaeology, and its representation in the media.
Reviews for Exhuming Loss: Memory, Materiality and Mass Graves of the Spanish Civil War
The author blends memory studies with material studies to develop an interpretation of reemerging materiality, the bringing of memory into some degree of substance beyond a faded photograph or a keepsake. Each step of the process is explained in the context of firming up the reality, the materiality, of the victims either collectively or individually. Renshaw also discusses how this emerging materiality affected the various participants in the exhumation process - the political organizations both democratic and socialist, the professional and volunteer archaeologists, the descendants of those buried together (all old with at best childhood memories.) She also addresses issues of representation. Overall the work flows well and develops the changing meaning of the Republican dead for their descendants and others seeking to restore them to Spanish history if not Spanish life. --John Barnhill, Anthropology Review Database