A lecture by Dr Daniel Palacios González

Chair: Dr Margarita Palacios

Thursday 15 June 2023, 18:00 – 19:30

Keynes Library, School of Arts Building, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

This event is organised by the Centre for Museum Cultures.

After the Spanish Civil War, unmarked mass graves were lasting traces of violence in communities traumatised by fear and unfinished mourning. Nevertheless, widows, militants, and unionists, among other community members, challenged the necropolitical order of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. This research focuses on the meaningful gestures of producing images employing the bodies buried in mass graves from 1936 until now, on how people made monuments from mass graves.

This talk will first discuss how the production of monuments evolved and what forms they took, from floral offerings to large pantheons. In the second part, it will be discussed how, since the year 2000, the commemorative practices surrounding the victims of the war and dictatorship changed radically: as hundreds of exhumations took place, destroying many monuments, and the rhetoric on human rights and dignity was generalised in the discourses. But due to the low identification rates, the bodies were buried inside monuments again.

It will be shown how we are not dealing with simple reactions that respond to the formal logic of tradition, but, on the contrary, people who made monuments from mass graves look for a specific and rational end goal, a result based on planning and rationality. The monument becomes an expression of the historical consciousness of its producers. They communicated their memories in a meaningful gesture limited by the material reality integrating the bodies in constructing a new image. In this way, they seek to honour them and to influence society, not just bury the dead according to a funerary tradition or human rights standards.

Dr Daniel Palacios González is an art historian and social researcher. He works as a Margarita Salas Postdoctoral Researcher at the UNED and is visiting Birkbeck as an Honorary Research Fellow. He got his PhD in Art History at the Universität zu Köln as MSCA Fellow, and he holds a MA in Cultural Policies from the Université Lyon 2 and the Univerzitet umetnosti u Beogradu (UNESCO Chair) and, a MSc in Community Cultural Development from the Universidad de Oriente, Cuba. He is a member of the research project NECROPOL: From the Forensic Turn to Necropolitics in the Exhumations of Mass Graves from the Civil War at the Universitat de Barcelona. He has recently published his book De fosas comunes a lugares de memoria (From mass graves to sites of memory), which received the MSA First Book Award 2023 from the Memory Studies Association.

Dr Margarita Palacios is Reader in Social Theory and Psychosocial Studies at the Department of Psychological Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London. Her research focuses on the intersection between aesthetics and the geo-political; the study of affect, desire, materiality and processes of de-materialization; racialisation, feminization and ‘white innocence’; memory, memorialisation and possibilities of witnessing.

This is a free event but booking is essential. Please book your place via Eventbrite here.