Museums and Material Memories of the Spanish Civil War: An Archaeological Critique

  • Alfredo González-Ruibal
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Cultural Heritage and Conflict book series


The Spanish Civil War is remembered in many ways. Vehicles of memory are often material and include ruins, monuments and museums, which are all amenable to archaeological scrutiny. In the present chapter, I am particularly interested in museums. Unlike in other countries, Spain has consistently failed to have proper museums of the conflict managed by the State. The gap is filled by private and local initiatives. Here, I examine, from an archaeological perspective, a variety of small war museums in different parts of Spain. My point is that all such projects entail important problems regarding the story of the Civil War that is being told. Lacking a master narrative to which they can refer, they deploy their own accounts, which either whitewash history or reproduce stereotypes, often inherited from the dictatorship. These narratives, I argue, are more ethnographic than historical and explain the war in antipolitical terms, thus failing to capture its meaning and consequences.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfredo González-Ruibal
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Ciencias del PatrimonioConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasSantiago de CompostelaSpain

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