• Olivia Muñoz-Rojas, Visiting Scholar, ProBE (Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment), University of Westminster:

“Granite Remains: the Monuments and Architecture of the Spanish Civil War and its Aftermath Today”

This paper discussed the presence today of monuments and architecture built during the war and its aftermath by the victorious side, the Nationalists. Like most movements with totalitarian aspirations the Nationalists, and subsequently Franco’s dictatorship, sought to mark the beginning of a new era in Spain’s history by physically inscribing the built environment with explicit symbols such as crosses to their fallen soldiers, statues, coats of arms, etc., and less explicit ones such as churches, schools, town halls and other buildings erected in the numerous reconstructed towns and villages in the aftermath of the war. Article 15 in the Law on Historic Memory passed in December 2007 by the Spanish Parliament establishes the removal of public symbols and monuments that exalt the military uprising, the civil war and the repression of the dictatorship, except when they are of artistic or architectural value. Aside from the potentially problematic nature of the law in its attempt to legislate memory, and the resistance that many local governments have faced when trying to apply Article 15, a broader question emerges as to what ought to be counted as a symbol of the war and the dictatorship, and what ought not. The issue is relevant to the wider discussion as to how to deal with the built legacies of war and totalitarianism across Europe, and whether there are other, more critical or creative ways of doing this.