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Exhumations: The Search for the Dead and the Resurgence of the Uncanny in Contemporary Spain



This essay examines the efforts in Spain that began in the year 2000 to recover and identify the bodies buried in mass graves from the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and the immediate postwar period, with a particular focus on the failed search to recover the remains of Federico García Lorca. The essay critically analyzes the public and academic discourse surrounding the exhumations, paying particular attention to the notion of the “recovery of memory” and how such recovery is understood to allow for both personal and national closure from trauma. As a counterpoint to the concept of recovery, this essay makes recourse to the uncanny in order to provide an alternative way of understanding the memories that surface in the context of exhumations and move beyond therapeutic discourse to open up a critical space for examining the place of the dead in contemporary Spain.