Digital Memory: The Visual Recording of Mass Grave Exhumations in Contemporary Spain


  • Francisco Ferrándiz Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
  • Alejandro Baer Universität Bayreuth



social memory, exhumations, photography, visual methods, audiovisual testimony, Civil War (1936-1939), Spain (history), Franco dictatorship


Exhumations of the victims of Franco's repressive policies are cultural practices of tremendous heuristic value and allow for the analysis of the public emergence, circulation and consumption of traumatic memory in local contexts. The use of visual media to capture social action in the surroundings of the exhumations serves as both a recording and as a triggering device for this emerging social memory. In the first part of this article we shall reflect on the different forms of visual and audiovisual interventions by different social actors that shape around mass grave exhumations. In the second part we will focus on the visual methods used by social scientists, particularly the recording of video-testimony of survivors and witnesses. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0803351


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Author Biographies

Francisco Ferrándiz, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas

Francisco FERRÁNDIZ is Tenured Researcher at the Instituto de Lengua, Literatura y Antropología (ILLA), Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales (CCHS), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid. His research in the anthropology of the body, violence and social memory encompasses two main ethnographic objects, the spiritist cult of María Lionza in Venezuela and the politics of memory in contemporary Spain, through the analysis of the current process of exhumation of mass graves from the Civil War (1936-1939). He is the author of Escenarios del cuerpo: Espiritismo y sociedad en Venezuela (2004), and co-editor of Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Peace and Conflict Research (2007).

Alejandro Baer, Universität Bayreuth

Alejandro BAER is Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Anthropology, Universidad Complutense de Madrid. His research focuses on the topics of social memory theory and research methods, particulary visual methods. He has worked on audiovisual testimonies of Holocaust survivors, the visual representation of the arab-israeli conflict, as well as on anti-Semitism and Holocaust memory in Spain. He is the author of Holocausto. Recuerdo y representación (2006), El testimonio audiovisual (2005), and co-editor of España y Holocausto (2007).




How to Cite

Ferrándiz, F., & Baer, A. (2008). Digital Memory: The Visual Recording of Mass Grave Exhumations in Contemporary Spain. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(3).



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