Unearthing the past, rising from the dead. Subterranean time capsules of the Spanish civil war victims
Paper short abstract:
In my paper I consider unearthing the dead as a sort of mobility in time, as they represent values they died for, transformed into actual political and social realms. By coming back into the country's spacetime, the dead claim their rights, and act as opponents to the historical narrative.
Paper long abstract:
The mobility is normally considered in the terms of spatial movement, marked with "disappearance" in one place and "appearance" in the other. Within a spatiotemporal framework we can analyse the exhumations of the civil war and francoist repression victims in Spain, and their influence on the actual social and political landscape of the country. Their forced disappearance, produced decades ago, left a wound in a social tissue, that is trying to be healed with the current movement aimed to visualise the harms by unveiling the dead. The exhumations act as a symbolic link between the present and the past, the dead and the living. Before being founded and unearthed, the human remains are an abstract notion of memory, and place the dead in a category of disappeared. While being unearthed they change their social status and are often treated as living persons. Once the identification process is over and the remains are given back to the family or the community, they reclaim their personalities and are inhumed in a way comprehended as a proper burial. Their status becomes clear. The process of recovering the social memory in Spain that exhumations form a part of, serves not only social, but also political purposes. Historical narratives are especially important in the power relations, as they help to control the social memory, that later represent the political objectives. By transforming the dead from "disappeared" to "identified" the community marks their space in the social history and confronts the "necroviolence" it was submitted to.