Legacies of Violence in Contemporary Spain: Exhuming the Past, Understanding the Present

Routledge
Free sample

This book provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary study of the multiple legacies of Francoist violence in contemporary Spain, with a special focus on the exhumations of mass graves from the Civil War and post-war era. The various contributions frame their study within a broader reflection on the nature, function and legacies of state-sanctioned violence in its many forms. Offering perspectives from fields as varied as history, political science, literary and cultural studies, forensic and cultural anthropology, international human rights law, sociology, and art, this volume explores the multifaceted nature of a society’s reckoning with past violence. It speaks not only to those interested in contemporary Spain and Western Europe, but also to those studying issues of transitional and post-transitional justice in other national and regional contexts.
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About the author

Ofelia Ferrán is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at the University of Minnesota.

Lisa Hilbink is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Jul 15, 2016
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Pages
366
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ISBN
9781317532941
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / Spain & Portugal
History / Modern / General
History / Social History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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An Argentine naval officer remorsefully admits that he killed thirty people during Argentina’s Dirty War. A member of General Augusto Pinochet’s intelligence service reveals on a television show that he took sadistic pleasure in the sexual torture of women in clandestine prisons. A Brazilian military officer draws on his own experiences to write a novel describing the military’s involvement in a massacre during the 1970s. The head of a police death squad refuses to become the scapegoat for apartheid-era violence in South Africa; he begins to name names and provide details of past atrocities to the Truth Commission. Focusing on these and other confessions to acts of authoritarian state violence, Leigh A. Payne asks what happens when perpetrators publicly admit or discuss their actions. While mechanisms such as South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission are touted as means of settling accounts with the past, Payne contends that public confessions do not settle the past. They are unsettling by nature. Rather than reconcile past violence, they catalyze contentious debate. She argues that this debate—and the public confessions that trigger it—are healthy for democratic processes of political participation, freedom of expression, and the contestation of political ideas.

Payne draws on interviews, unedited television film, newspaper archives, and books written by perpetrators to analyze confessions of state violence in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and South Africa. Each of these four countries addressed its past through a different institutional form—from blanket amnesty, to conditional amnesty based on confessions, to judicial trials. Payne considers perpetrators’ confessions as performance, examining what they say and what they communicate nonverbally; the timing, setting, and reception of their confessions; and the different ways that they portray their pasts, whether in terms of remorse, heroism, denial, or sadism, or through lies or betrayal.

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