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GWACS Seminar 26 October

28 September 2011

You are warmly invited to a GWACS Seminar on: “New Perspectives on the Aftermath of the Spanish Civil War” and Book Launch: Ashes and Granite: Destruction and Reconstruction in the Spanish Civil War and its Aftermath by Olivia Muñoz-Rojas (Sussex Academic Press, 2011)

Wednesday 26 October 2011, 6-8 pm, in Room 354, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW.

Entrance FREE but RSVP Dr Caroline Perret: C.Perret@westminster.ac.uk.

Speakers:

Martin Hurcombe, Senior Lecturer, University of Bristol:
“Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Defeat: Two French Responses to the Fall of the Spanish Republic”

This paper will examine the responses of two French writers to the defeat of the Spanish Republic in 1939: the internationally renowned author André Malraux and his contemporary, the communist journalist and novelist Simone Téry. While Malraux has now joined the literary canon of politically committed early twentieth-century novelists, Téry is a forgotten figure. Both were prominent in bringing the Republican cause to the French public’s attention, however; Téry through her tireless reporting of the conflict in L’Humanité and Regards and Malraux through his novel of the Civil War, L’Espoir (Man’s Hope). This paper will focus instead, however, on the manner in which both subsequently interpreted the fall of the Republic. It will examine Malraux’s 1939 film of the war (Espoir: Sierra de Teruel) and its post-Liberation reception in France, alongside Téry’s political romance of 1945 set in Republican Spain, Où l’aube se lève. It will argue that, while both authors shared throughout the conflict a belief in the primacy of discipline and organisation over revolutionary spontaneity, their subsequent depictions reveal a parting of the ways, indicating a political repositioning indicative of post-Liberation divisions in France and of the political itineraries of the communist intellectual and the fellow-traveller, as Téry and Malraux both recast the Republican defeat as a moral victory that vindicates their respective political realignment.

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 will discuss 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.


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