La Sauceda: A Case Study in Projects of Historical Memory in Cádiz

Since I left for Cádiz, the focus of my research project changed  from evaluating the efficacy of the 2007 Law of Historical Memory to focusing on a specific historical memory project that I had several opportunities to interact with during my study abroad. This project revolved around the exhumation and commemoration of the victims of Franco’s army at the village of La Sauceda in Andalucía, near the boarder of the provinces Cádiz and Málaga. While the inefficiencies of the Law of Historical Memory were still relevant to my discussion of the project at La Sauceda, I decided to more broadly evaluate all of the challenges that the project faced, along with the reasons for which the project has been successful .

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Projects of Historical Memory in Cádiz

On Sunday, I returned home from Cádiz, Spain after having experienced a multitude of once in a lifetime adventures. Some of the most inspiring, serious, and thought provoking moments of my study abroad came while I was working on my research project and while discussing the legacy of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) with the diverse assortment of individuals I met in Spain. I attended documentary screenings about a recent exhumation of a mass grave at La Sauceda, interviewed a historian, and traveled through Cádiz with Professor Cate-Arries observing how modern Spaniards remember and commemorate their past. I heard a member of the audience at the documentary say that equally as important as the disinterment of the remains is the “recovery of the ideas of these bones.” I saw flags of the II República waving over buildings dedicated to historical memory. The flag of the government that ruled Spain in the early 1930s, only to be overthrown by Franco, is now a powerful symbol. My host parents in Cádiz told me that they couldn’t understand why anyone bothers to study the Spanish Civil War because it’s over, a part only of Spain’s distant past.

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