Subterranean Autopsies: Exhumations of Mass Graves in Contemporary Spain

  • Francisco Ferrándiz
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies book series (PMMS)


The concept of ‘subterranean’ which I use in this text aims to extend the semantic field of the experience of defeat in the Spanish Civil War.1 It tries to contribute to the deciphering of the historical, social, political and symbolic profile of the tens of thousands of people executed by the insurgent army and associated paramilitaries in the rearguard of the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) and subsequently in Francoist post-war Spain, and whose lives ended with their bodies heaped up in mass graves all over the country. In other words, ‘subterranean’ is a deeply spatial concept which refers to the historical translation and contemporary deciphering of a mapping of terror, whose efficacy has survived, albeit transformed, to the present day. In the year 2000, a process of unearthing this subterranean past began in Spain and, in the course of a decade, has affected some 300 mass graves and around 6,000 bodies (Etxeberria, 2012; Ferrándiz, 2013).


Mass Grave Knowledge Society Dead Body Spanish Society Underground Body 
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© Francisco Ferrándiz 2014

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  • Francisco Ferrándiz

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