Exhuming the defeated: Civil War mass graves in 21st-century Spain

by Francisco Ferrándiz

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By Francisco FerrándizFull Article: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/amet.12004/abstract

The exhumations of two mass graves in a small Spanish village, conducted eight years apart, illustrate changing attitudes toward and procedures related to Civil War (1936–39) disinterments over the last decade. The sudden public visibility of skeletons of civilians executed by Francisco Franco's paramilitary has triggered heated debates both about how to handle these remains in a consolidated democratic state and what to make of related judicial and institutional initiatives. I place the particularity of Spain's "human rights outsourcing model" regarding Civil War crimes in comparative perspective within the framework of transnational human rights discourses and practices.

Exhumation of 45 men executed by the rebel rear guard during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39
in the village of Milagros (Burgos). Pedro Cancho poses with portraits of his slain grandfather, after whom he was named, by the mass grave where his ancestor is believed to be buried. Photo by Francisco Ferrandiz, July 18, 2009.)
Exhumation of 45 men executed by the rebel rear guard during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) in the village of Milagros (Burgos). Pedro Cancho poses with portraits of his slain grandfather, after whom he was named, by the mass grave where his ancestor is believed to be buried. Photo by Francisco Ferrandiz, July 18, 2009.

Exhumation of 45 men executed by the rebel rear guard during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) in the village of Milagros (Burgos). Pedro Cancho poses with portraits of his slain grandfather, after whom he was named, by the mass grave where his ancestor is believed to be buried. Photo by Francisco Ferrandiz, July 18, 2009.