Memory Laws, Memory Wars

Laws against Holocaust denial are perhaps the best-known manifestation of the present-day politics of historical memory. In Memory Laws, Memory Wars, Nikolay Koposov examines the phenomenon of memory laws in Western and Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Russia and exposes their very different purposes in the East and West. In Western Europe, he shows how memory laws were designed to create a common European memory centred on the memory of the Holocaust as a means of integrating Europe, combating racism, and averting national and ethnic conflicts. In Russia and Eastern Europe, by contrast, legislation on the issues of the past is often used to give the force of law to narratives which serve the narrower interests of nation states and protect the memory of perpetrators rather than victims. This will be essential reading for all those interested in ongoing conflicts over the legacy of the Second World War, Nazism, and communism.

Author: Nikolay Koposov

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GUIXÉ, Jordi, ALONSO, Jesús, and CONESA, Ricard (2019). Ten years of memory laws and policies (2007-2017)

In 2007, two laws were passed that marked a before and after in attempts to legislate on the effects of the traumatic past of the Civil War and Francoism. On the one hand, the Congress of Deputies approved the Law of Historical Memory and on the other, the Parliament of Catalonia gave the green light to the Law of Democratic Memorial. What have been their real effects? What consequences and reactions have they provoked? In the last legislature, memory policies have taken a new direction with the creation of a General Directorate of Historical Memory and the decision to exhume dictator Francisco Franco from his grave in the Valley of the Fallen. The impunity of the dictatorship’s crimes, the state of the mass graves, the treatment of Franco’s symbology or the role of the memorialist associations are themes that continue to be valid.


Authors: Jordi Guixé i Coromines, Jesús Alonso Carballés, and Ricard Conesa Sánchez

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ESER, Patrick, SCHROTT, Angela and WINTER, Ulrich (editors)(2018). Democratic transitions and memory in the Hispanic world

The democratic transitions in the Iberian Peninsula and the Southern Cone during the 1970s and 1980s form a large part of the collective memories on both sides of the Atlantic. However, these memories are not only national, but converge in a transnational memorial space, which invites transatlantic views from Spain and the Southern Cone. This book offers a comparison of these two regions and describes the emergence of a transatlantic memory space, with its artistic and discursive dynamics. As the subject of memory is an intrinsically transdisciplinary field, the studies gather historiographical, political-juridical aspects, literary-artistic and filmic creation, as well as cultural and linguistic-discursive practices.


Editors: Patrick Eser, Angela Schrott and Ulrich Winter

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FERNÁNDEZ PRIETO, Lourenzo and MÍGUEZ MACHO, Antonio (editors)(2018). Golpistas e verdugos de 1936. Historia dun pasado incómodo

This is the story of the executioners. It is not a heroic or pleasant story, nor a forgotten story. It’s a story we did not want to know, but historians are forced to investigate and contextualize. Knowledge is always surprising and deflects errors, myths, interested deformations. We tried that. The readers will know in this book the social dimensions of the executors and collaborators. How much the violence of the coup expanded. The coup leaders will be known to persecute the authorities, starting with the military. How the civil, military, police and administrative authorities were shot without imagining that they would be executed, because that possibility was not part of their world, nor of their life and political experience.


Editors: Lourenzo Fernández Prieto y Antonio Míguez Macho

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RIBEIRO DE MENEZES, Alison, CAZORLA-SANCHEZ, Antonio, and SHUBERT, Adrian (editors)(2018). Public Humanities and the Spanish Civil War

This interdisciplinary collection of essays examines contemporary public history’s engagement with the Spanish Civil War. The chapters discuss the history and mission of the main institutional archives of the war, contemporary and forensic archaeology of the conflict, burial sites, the affordances of digital culture in the sphere of war memory, the teaching of the conflict in Spanish school curricula, and the place of war memory within human rights initiatives. Adopting a strongly comparative focus, the authors argue for greater public visibility and more nuanced discussion of the Civil War’s legacy, positing a virtual museum as one means to foster dialogue.


Editors: Alison Ribeiro de Menezes, Antonio Cazorla-Sánchez, Adrian Shubert

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MAGUIRE, Mark, RAO, Ursula, and ZURAWSKI, Nils (editors)(2018). Bodies as Evidence: Security, Knowledge, and Power

From biometrics to predictive policing, contemporary security relies on sophisticated scientific evidence-gathering and knowledge-making focused on the human body. Bringing together new anthropological perspectives on the complexities of security in the present moment, the contributors to Bodies as Evidence reveal how bodies have become critical sources of evidence that is organized and deployed to classify, recognize, and manage human life.

Through global case studies that explore biometric identification, border control, forensics, predictive policing, and counterterrorism, the contributors show how security discourses and practices that target the body contribute to new configurations of knowledge and power. At the same time, margins of error, unreliable technologies, and a growing suspicion of scientific evidence in a “post-truth” era contribute to growing insecurity, especially among marginalized populations.



Editors: Mark Maguire, Ursula Rao, y Nils Zurawski

Contributors: Carolina Alonso-Bejarano, Gregory Feldman, Francisco J. Ferrándiz, Daniel M. Goldstein, Ieva Jusionyte, Amade M’charek, Mark Maguire, Joseph P. Masco, Ursula Rao, Antonius C. G. M. Robben, Joseba Zulaika, y Nils Zurawski

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VINYES, Ricard (dir.) (2018). Dictionary of collective memory

The Diccionario de la memoria colectiva is a pioneering work in the studies of our recent history, which takes the pulse of a demanding society, attentive to the legacy of other memories and to the proposals of the new research currents. The Editorial Gedisa thus undertakes a cutting-edge project of deep social science, endorsed by the participation of a research team that brings together about two hundred specialists and contemporary historians from the international field and the Spanish language.

The work, which chooses the dictionary form, allows the identification and detailed analysis of historical episodes, concepts and categories of studies on memory. It also has the graphic support of some of the most significant images of our contemporary history, continents around the management of his memory, the image of the political and social traumas that lived from the Second World War, the projection of that image and the policies that were subsequently assumed.


Ricard Vinyes Ribas, is Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Barcelona. His research on women who were repressed during Franco’s dictatorship or silenced memory, in Spain and other countries in Latin America, has been internationally recognized.

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FABER, Sebastiaan (2018). Memory Battles of the Spanish Civil War: History, Fiction, Photography

The ability to forget the violent twentieth-century past was long seen as a virtue in Spain, even a duty. But the common wisdom has shifted as increasing numbers of Spaniards want to know what happened, who suffered, and who is to blame. Memory Battles of the Spanish Civil War shows how historiography, fiction, and photography have shaped our views of the 1936-39 war and its long, painful aftermath.

Faber traces the curious trajectories of iconic Spanish Civil War photographs by Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and David Seymour; critically reads a dozen recent Spanish novels and essays; interrogates basic scholarly assumptions about history, memory, and literature; and interviews nine scholars, activists, and documentarians who in the past decade and a half have helped redefine Spain’s relationship to its past. In this book Faber argues that recent political developments in Spain–from the grassroots call for the recovery of historical memory to the indignados movement and the foundation of Podemos–provide an opportunity for scholars in the humanities to engage in a more activist, public, and democratic practice

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DE LEÓN, Jason (2015) The Land of Open Graves. Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail

In his gripping and provocative debut, anthropologist Jason De León sheds light on one of the most pressing political issues of our time—the human consequences of US immigration policy. The Land of Open Graves reveals the suffering and deaths that occur daily in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona as thousands of undocumented migrants attempt to cross the border from Mexico into the United States.

Drawing on the four major fields of anthropology, De León uses an innovative combination of ethnography, archaeology, linguistics, and forensic science to produce a scathing critique of “Prevention through Deterrence,” the federal border enforcement policy that encourages migrants to cross in areas characterized by extreme environmental conditions and high risk of death. For two decades, this policy has failed to deter border crossers while successfully turning the rugged terrain of southern Arizona into a killing field.

In harrowing detail, De León chronicles the journeys of people who have made dozens of attempts to cross the border and uncovers the stories of the objects and bodies left behind in the desert.


About the author:

Jason De León is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan and Director of the Undocumented Migration Project, a long-term anthropological study of clandestine border crossings between Mexico and the United States. His academic work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including National Public Radio, the New York Times Magazine, Al Jazeeramagazine, The Huffington Post, and Vice magazine. In 2013, De León was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.


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WEIZMAN, Eyal (2017). Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability

In recent years, a research group named Forensic Architecture began using novel research methods to undertake a series of investigations into human rights abuses. Today, the group provides crucial evidence for international courts and works with a wide range of activist groups, NGOs, Amnesty International, and the UN.

Beyond shedding new light on human rights violations and state crimes across the globe, Forensic Architecture has also created a new form of investigative practice that bears its name. The group uses architecture as an optical device to investigate armed conflicts and environmental destruction, as well as to cross-reference a variety of evidence sources, such as new media, remote sensing, material analysis, witness testimony, and crowd-sourcing.

In Forensic Architecture, Eyal Weizman, the group’s founder, provides, for the first time, an in-depth introduction to the history, practice, assumptions, potentials, and double binds of this practice. The book includes an extensive array of images, maps, and detailed documentation that records the intricate work the group has performed..

Included in this volume are case studies that traverse multiple scales and durations, ranging from the analysis of the shrapnel fragments in a room struck by drones in Pakistan, the reconstruction of a contested shooting in the West Bank, the architectural recreation of a secret Syrian detention center from the memory of its survivors, a blow-by-blow account of a day-long battle in Gaza, and an investigation of environmental violence and climate change in the Guatemalan highlands and elsewhere.

Weizman’s Forensic Architecture, stunning and shocking in its critical narrative, powerful images, and daring investigations, presents a new form of public truth, technologically, architecturally, and aesthetically produced. Their practice calls for a transformative politics in which architecture as a field of knowledge and a mode of interpretation exposes and confronts ever-new forms of state violence and secrecy.

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