Exilio, memoria e industrias culturales: esbozo para un debate

H López

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article I explore three key questions in relation to the so-called 'memory boom' in the Spain of the New Millennium: 1. What is the theoretical -as well as political- relevance of the notion of 'collective memory'? 2. Can the traumatic model successfully explain social phenomena? 3. What is the relationship between commodification (and its associated nostalgic and spectacular effects) and competing political discourses? First, the concept of 'collective memory' has been seriously problematized by many scholars working within the field of Memory Studies. I therefore argue that the examination of the discourses of memory in Spain would benefit from microanalytical approaches contesting the idea of a homogeneous society. Secondly, I contend that the thesis of a traumatic memory of the Spanish civil war is inadequate. The traumatic theory claims that the repression of memories about the war in Spain after the death of Franco was due to the fear of a repetition of a violent conflict. I argue, however,that a repetition of the Spanish civil war was structurally impossible after 1975. This impossibility proves the theoretical irrelevance of the 'traumatic model' and points towards an analytical model based on the notion of 'social fantasy'. This notion assumes that remembering the past is not a question of 'referenciality' (what actually happened) but of how the past is re-worked in the present. Oblivion in post-Franco Spain was the result of the fear of counter-modernisation (threatening economic and social prosperity, belonging to the European project, etc) rather than of a return of the 1936 conflict. Finally, I criticize those accounts which see the current interest in memory as either commodification or a return of the repressed. Both dimensions, the economic and the ideological, overlap and should then be taken in consideration when exploring remembrance in Spain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-36
Number of pages12
JournalMigraciones & Exilios: Cuadernos de la Asociación para el estudio de los exilios y migraciones ibéricos contemporáneos
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004


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