Carnegie Mellon University
March 06, 2013

History, Memory, Truth

Cultural Capital in Spain’s Memory Wars

History, Memory, Truth

Dr. Sebastiaan Faber
Oberlin College

Since the late 1990s, Spain has seen a series of public disputes over the historical memory of the Second Republic, the Spanish Civil War, Francoism, and the Transition. Two main issues have been at stake in these “memory wars”: the representation of the violent 20th-century past—how to tell the story and who should tell it—and the relationship that today’s Spain should have with that past. In the past fifteen years, there have been three major shifts. The debates have moved from the private and academic into the public, political, and judicial spheres; journalists, victims and their family members have been displacing historians and other intellectuals as the main sources of public discourse about the past; and in this discourse there is greater focus on judgment, personal or collective experiences and an effort to read this case in relation to World War II, the Cold War and the dictatorships in the Southern Cone. My talk will analyze these shifts as struggles for authority and legitimacy—for cultural capital—and focus in particular on the way notions of truth have been invoked in these struggles.

Sebastiaan Faber is a Professor of Hispanic Studies, Director, Oberlin Center for Languages and Cultures, Oberlin College, and Chair of Board of Governors of the Abraham Lincoln Brigades Archives. Sebastiaan is the author of Exile and Cultural Hegemony: Spanish Exiles in Mexico (Vanderbilt, 2002), and Anglo-American Hispanists and the Spanish Civil War (Palgrave, 2008), Contra el olvido. El exilio español en Estados Unidos (Universidad de Alcalá, 2009) as well as some sixty articles on Spanish and Latin American literature, history, and politics (

March 6th 4:30pm
Steinberg Auditorium, BH A-53

Reception Following Talk

Sponsored by: The Department of Modern Languages, The Department of History, & The Center for the Arts in Society