Missing Bodies Near-at-Hand: The Dissonant Memory and Dormant Graves of the Spanish Civil War

  • Layla RenshawEmail author


This contribution will look at the case of Spain’s mass graves containing the remains of tens of thousands of civilians killed by the Francoist regime during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and its aftermath. These graves are located in both urban and rural communities of all sizes, throughout Spain. Since 2000, these graves and the remains within them have become the focal point for intense investigative and commemorative activity, primarily structured by a campaign to exhume and formally rebury these remains. This campaign has achieved a rupture in the long-held “pact of silence”, which has hitherto surrounded the Civil War. This contribution is based on ethnographic interviews and participant observation in two small rural communities in Castile Leon, while, over three years from 2003, they experienced the extended process of exhumation, identification and reburial of bodies of Republicans buried in unmarked graves on the edge of their communities.


Field Site Mass Grave Human Remains Spanish Society Traumatic Past 
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.



I would like to thank members of ARMH, and those who collaborate with them, whose openness and patience enabled me to undertake fieldwork. I thank my informants for speaking on these themes. Part of this fieldwork was undertaken with support of a doctoral grant from the AHRC, UK.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life Sciences, Kingston UniversityLondonUK

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