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The Genocidal Genealogy of Francoism

Violence, Memory and Impunity

Antonio Miguez Macho (1979) is lecturer at the University of Santiago de Compostela. He has spent time as a researcher at The London School of Economics and Political Science and the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (Buenos Aires). He has published extensively on twentieth-century Spanish political and social history. He is the author of “Challenging Impunity in Spain throughout the Concept of Genocidal Practices”, in P. Anderson and M.A. del Arco Blanco (eds.), Mass Killings and Violence in Spain, 1936-1952 (London, Routledge, 2015).

The Francoist command in the Spanish Civil War carried out a programme of mass violence from the start of the conflict. Through a combination of death squads and the use of military trials around 150,000 Spaniards met their deaths. Others perished in concentration camps and prisons. The terror took other forms, such as mass rape, extortion, “appropriation” of children and forced exile. The planned nature of this violence meant that the Francoists decided when the violence would begin, the way it would be carried out and when it would come to an end. This is a primary reason why the judicial concept of genocidal practice, alongside the use of comparative history, can furnish insights.

The July 1936 uprising was not only aimed at ending the Republican regime, but had ideological goals: preventing the supposed Bolshevik Revolution, defending the ‘unity of Spain’ and reversing center-left social and cultural reforms. An over-arching objective was the elimination of a social group identified as ‘an enemy of Spain’ – a group defined as: not Catholic, not Spanish, not traditional. The genocidal intent of the coup via access to state resources, their monopoly of force in some territories and their subsequent victory ensured that the practice of genocide could be realized in the whole Spanish territory, permitting the hegemonic nature of the denialist discourse surrounding these crimes.

Public debate over Francosim brings with it substantive disagreements. The Genocidal Genealogy of Francoism engages with the root causes of these disagreements. Violence and the memory of violence are viewed as part of a single phenomenon that has continued to the present, a process that is located within a comparative framework that analyzes the Spanish case beyond the debate between Francoism and anti-Francoism. The author explains the political and judicial proceedings in recent Spanish history with regard to its violent past and the implications for international justice initiatives.

Published in association with the Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-749-0
Hardback Price: £45.00 / $54.95
Release Date: October 2015
Paperback ISBN: 9781-84519-883-1
Paperback Price: £22.50 / $32.95
Release Date: April 2017
Page Extent / Format: 192 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: Yes


The Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies
Series Editor’s Preface
Author’s Preface and Acknowledgements

Introduction: Spain, between Denialism and Historical Memory

1 Genealogy of the Concept of Genocidal Practice

2 Massive State Violence: The Spanish Case and its Comparison with Other Examples

3 Memory and Denial of Violence

4 Transitional Justice and Impunity: Spain and its Present Past


In this book, author Antonio Miguez Macho presents readers with an examination of recent political and judicial proceedings in Spain in light of the violent history of Francoism and the implications that they have for international justice advocacy. The author covers the genealogy of the concept of genocidal practice, the Spanish case of massive state violence and how it compares with other historical examples, memory and the denial of violence, and transitional justice in Spain.

The Genocidal Genealogy of Francoism: Violence, Memory and Impunity is a valuable contribution to existing literature on Francoism. Míguez Macho positions the dictatorship and its state-sponsored violence and repression as a genocide. He uses this term after a careful examination of the concept of genocide alongside similar notions, such as crimes against humanity and war crimes. Míguez Macho concludes by asserting that ‘the main enemy of the justice in Spain is the Spanish justice system itself’ (112). This is a sombre conclusion which indicates the important task ahead for Spanish society. This book is a welcome addition to studies on Francoism and memory, challenging current studies for their lack of engagement with the concept of genocide, an apt term for analysing and understanding the crimes committed during the Spanish Civil War and Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in Spain.
Reviewed by Jorge L. Catalá-Carrasco, in the Bulletin of Spanish Studies Hispanic Studies and Researches on Spain, Portugal and Latin America, Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, Volume XCV, Number 7, 2018

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