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Accepted Paper:

Afterlives of Lives Taken – Women and the Stolen Children in Post-Franco Spain  
Katja Seidel (University of Innsbruck Maynooth University)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper explores gender violence and the dismissal of mother-victims’ call for justice during Spain’s second transition. It analyses how the continuum of 'invisible violence' of child theft during and after Franco prevents justice for women and the recuperation of the ‘living disappeared’.

Paper Abstract:

This paper examines the continuum of gender violence and trauma, criminal prosecutions and the recuperation of the stolen children in post-Franco Spain. Since 1936, an estimated number of at least 30.000 children were robbed from their parents and sold for adoption. The practice of systematic child theft started during the Civil War and was further promoted during the Franco dictatorship as part of the attempted annihilation of left-wing culture. Obscured by the pact of silence and amnesty laws that marked the transition to democracy, the practice continued far into the 1990s as an organised crime facilitated by the Church, political, medical and judicial entities. Today, victimized mothers, lawyers and judges struggle for the recuperation of the ‘living disappeared’ and seek to facilitate identity recuperation, recognition, support DNA testing and guarantee their rights to criminal prosecutions. But even some of those asking for exhumations and historical clarification in post-Franco Spain dismiss these crimes against women, claiming that “las locas” (the crazy ones) just can't get over the death of their children at birth.

In this paper, I present my fieldwork with human rights lawyers and mother-activists from ABEROA and ‘Bebes Robados‘ in Andalucía and the Basque Country and their challenging pursuit for the recuperation of the stolen children. I analyse how “invisible violence” in the aftermath of dictatorships impede gender justice and how stigma of motherhood and the socially learned nexus of authoritarian structures and misogyny prevent recognition of women’s rights and the recovery of the stolen children and their identities.

Panel P096
Afterlives of armed conflict: former rebels, new political formations, and shifting gender norms
  Session 1 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -