The Flemish Peace Institute is an independent
institute for peace research at the Flemish Parliament.

History from the grave? Politics of time in Spanish mass grave exhumations

During the last decade, a Spanish memory movement has exhumed a great number of mass graves from the Civil War (1936–1939) and Francoist repression (1939–1975). This exhumation campaign is often interpreted as a natural reaction to a traumatic past, and as proving that this past should be healed by a therapeutic memory that fosters closure—a vision that we call “trauma-therapy-closure (TTC) time.” In this article Lore Colaert argues  that the Spanish situation does not prove the naturalness and universal applicability of trauma-therapy-closure time. Although we do identify aspects of this trauma-therapy-closure vision in an influential exhumation group, this vision is contested by local actors and sections within the memory movement that engage in alternative politics of time.

B. Bevernage, B & L. Colaert (2014), ‘History from the grave? Politics of time in Spanish mass grave exhumations’, in Memory Studies, vol. 7, nr. 4, p.440-456.