Introduction: The Multi-Layered Memories of Space

  • Pamela Colombo
  • Estela Schindel
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies book series (PMMS)


At the origin of this book is a salon, and a piano on which Federico García Lorca used to play. The inaugural session of the symposium ‘Spatialities of Exception, Violence, and Memory’, for which the contributions gathered in this volume were originally written, took place in February 2012 at the Residencia de Estudiantes (Students’ Residency) in Madrid. This institution has a legendary place in the intellectual history of Spain, having served as an active cultural centre in the interwar period. Before Franco’s dictatorship put an end to it, the building had offered a fertile space for creation, thought and interdisciplinary dialogue and had housed many prominent avant-garde artists and scientists, like Lorca himself. Sitting in that salon and with the piano still standing there as a silent witness, the research topics that had gathered us there became particularly tangible. How is memory inscribed in space? Do the places themselves bear and transmit the remembrance or is it that our knowledge and affect attach meaning to them? Evoking the figure of García Lorca – who was executed by the Francoist regime but whose corpse has never been found – the question about the entanglement of places and memory became palpable in this room. The greatest Spanish-language poet of the twentieth century is a ‘desaparecido’ (disappeared), since his remains have never been found. What happens when state crimes do not leave traces and when there are no recognizable graves? How can the absence be made visible?


Collective Memory Memory Study State Violence Sovereign Power Detention Centre 
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© Estela Schindel and Pamela Colombo 2014

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  • Pamela Colombo
  • Estela Schindel

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