Collective Memory of Political Events: Social Psychological Perspectives

By James W. Pennebaker; Dario Paez et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 12
The Construction of Remembering and Forgetfulness: Memories and Histories of the Spanish Civil War

Lupicinio Íñiguez The Autonomous University of Barcelona

Jose Valencia University of the Basque Country, Spain

Félix Vázquez The Autonomous University of Barcelona

Despite the permanent memory of the Spanish Civil War in the social imaginaire, its investigation, leaving historical studies aside, has not been the object of noteworthy study in social science. This abandonment is in direct contrast to its stubborn presence in the mass media. With the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the end of the Civil War coinciding with the centenary of General Franco's birth, it seems that the attention of the media has somewhat awakened in the past decade. However, if we examine what underlies current accounts, it is clear that there is an almost complete reliance on the presentist conception of history, that is, a reading of the past through categories of the present. Obviously, a presentist conception imposes a certain order onto events; in doing so, it gives legitimacy to a certain narrative conception. Events placed early in that narrative, we argue in this chapter (e.g., the assassination of a key figure), are turned into causes of succeeding events. The narrative turns descriptions into a fixed chain of cause and effect leading up to the present. It has a power not only within the collection of events it chooses to make a sequence of, but imposes a "regimen of truth" on all other candidates: They are admitted into legitimate debate only if they fit the narrative's criteria.

In fact, Spain has seen few processes that have generated so many interpretations and debates as the Civil War. It is a framework of feelings and intense experiences, full of polemical and controversial issues. These are not only limited to a historiographical viewpoint and/or a political dimension, but are also open to a dimension of ethics and experience. It is a conflict

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