SURCLA Seminar: Spanish Bureaucratic Silencing of the Disappeared in Clandestine Graves
Spanish Bureaucratic Silencing of the Disappeared in Clandestine Graves
This paper seeks to explore the impact of traumatic memory on survivors’ habits to protect themselves and future generations from a repetition of the past, contributing to a delay in unearthing the disappeared victims of the Spanish Civil War and dictatorship. The civil society exhumation movement has emerged as a response to the institutional silence and denial by the modern Spanish state. The silencing of victims in clandestine graves and survivors of repression included several elements that explain why the disappeared have remained neglected for so long.
Particularly after the arrival of democracy, the shadow of the Francoist state persisted to prevent any examination or recuperation of the past. Rubin (2018: 214) explains that despite democracy Spanish ‘citizens still experience the coercive effects of the dictatorship’s policies in their daily interactions with the built environment, state institutions and even their fellow citizens’. This paper examines the impact of political, legal and administrative barriers due to the legacy of repression that produced silence about the past through fear and intimidation. The success of the Amnesty Law rests being embedded in the legacy of fear and the power of the right to prevent empowerment of the families to effectively claim rights endowed in LHM.
Natalia Maystorovich Chulio is a PhD student and works in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney. Her research interests include humanitarian and human rights law; transitional justice; the archaeological recovery of mass graves; and the capacity of social movements to elicit social, political and legal change as they seek justice for victims. Her focus is on socio-legal research and qualitative methods in an attempt to merge her political and social interests with a scholarship which may enact social change. Since 2012 she has worked with the Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica (ARMH – Association for the Recovery of Historic Memory) in an attempt to draw attention to the difficulties experienced by victims and their relatives in the recuperation of their missing.