The Archaeology of Internment in Francoist Spain (1936–1952)

Part of the One World Archaeology book series (WORLDARCH)


Between 1936 and 1952 Spain was transformed into an immense prison. Hundreds of internment camps were established by General Franco all over the country: some of them were purpose built; others reused older buildings and spaces. No less than half a million people passed through the camps and many thousands died in them due to ill-treatment, hunger, disease, and executions. The Franco regime produced a complex typology of camps, articulated with other spaces of punishment, which was fundamental in disciplining its subjects and reconstructing the nation along totalitarian lines. In recent years, historical research on the camps has grown exponentially, but the materiality of the sites themselves has rarely been taken into consideration. Here, the Spanish camps will be studied archaeologically as a technology of repression. Toward understanding the Spanish camps in their wider context, the similarities and dissimilarities with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy will be pointed out. Finally, I will scrutinize the contentious place of the camps in the collective memory of Spaniards today.


Material Culture Concentration Camp Postwar Period Prison Term Detention Center 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Many of the ideas of this chapter have arisen from discussions with members of the Bustarviejo Project: Alicia Quintero Maqua, Carlos Marín, Álvaro Falquina, Jorge Rolland, and Pedro Fermín Maguire. I am grateful to Kiko Esperilla for kindly providing a photograph of the concentration camp of Castuera. Thanks are also due to the editors of the volume for the invitation to participate in this book and for organizing a thought-provoking session at the Sixth World Archaeological Congress.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Heritage LaboratorySpanish National Research CouncilSantiago de CompostelaSpain

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