Accepted Paper:

Remaking Familial Identity through Contested Archival Traces in Post-Franco Spain  
Zahira Aragüete-Toribio (University of Geneva)

Paper short abstract:

The impossibility of finding some of the corpses of left-wing Republicans killed during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) has prompted forms of information gathering that aim to grasp complex histories of disappearance through the affective and epistemic quality of particular archival traces.

Paper long abstract:

The recent quest to find the corpses of left-wing Republicans killed in judicial and extrajudicial executions during and after the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) has returned their names and their life and death stories to the realm of the public - from which they once were estranged. Though the humanitarian forensic interventions conducted in the country since the year 2000 have succeeded in locating, analyzing, and exhuming and identifying hundreds of human remains through techno-scientific expertise, some campaigns have remained unsuccessful. The absence of the mass grave and the corpse has thrown some families into endless searches for other traces that confirm the actuality of the person, contest Francoist narratives about the killings and subvert the institutional regime of silence and neglect that exists, still today, in relation to war and postwar crimes. In this paper, I consider how families liaise with activists, archaeologists and historians to follow the trail of the dead from often-deceitful Francoist state records to intimate but scarce repositories of personal objects, documents and photographs in order to understand and navigate a complex history of disappearance. I posit that the absence of the corpse activates a process of information gathering and assemblage not only powered by affect and the need to re-establish a kinship bond, but also by the pressing desire to grasp a familial yet distant past. Analyzing this quest, I explore the trace as an affective yet also an epistemic trigger in the new historicity of post-Franco Spain.

Panel P044
Revealing Histories of Violence: The Representational Politics of Trace