Uncovered: reversals of exposure and concealment in Spain's memory politics

Renshaw, Layla (2009) Uncovered: reversals of exposure and concealment in Spain's memory politics. New Literary Observer: Anthropology of Closed Societies, 100,


This contribution examines how Francoist strategies of control played on the pre-existing preoccupation in rural Spanish communities with the division between the interior and exterior, as well as culturally specific understandings of visibility and surveillance. The article considers how episodes of enforced exposure enacted against Republican families in the Civil War, particularly strategies of gendered and sexual violence, and of exposure of the interior of the home through theft and looting, hastened a Republican retreat into the interior realm, and engendered an enduring sense of shame in some victims and their families. This was compounded by a further inversion of public and private, through the suppression of socially significant acts of mourning. It concludes with an assessment of how the current exhumations of Republican mass graves — entailing the exposure and display of bodies, the opening up of the clandestine grave site, and the formal reburial of bodies with due ceremony — serve to symbolically reverse Francoist strategies of control, and represent a return to the public realm for the victims and their descendants.

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