Producing Historical Knowledge in a World of Absence: Forensic Science, Cultures of Documentation, and the Politics of Memory in Post-Franco Spain


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation examines how forensic experts, historians, image-makers, and the kin of those who fell victim to twentieth-century fascist violence unearth and mobilize diverse forms of scientific, documentary, and narrative evidence in order to challenge cultural forgetting in contemporary Spain. Since 2000, the local uptake of transnational forensics has allowed researchers and victims’ kin to position memory as an object that can and should be recuperated. However, in the context of legal amnesty, cultural amnesia, and economic austerity, attempts to produce new forms of historical knowledge have been thwarted. This dissertation tracks local efforts to reimagine Spaniards’ relationships to the past by analyzing the social processes that exhume and give meaning to evidence in post-Franco Spain. The project’s concern with how evidence is produced in forensic labs, state-run archives, and online image galleries also provides important insight into how digital and analog technologies mediate historical knowledge.