Guadalajara’s municipal cemetery, Spain, 2017. © Marina Otero Verzier Guadalajara’s municipal cemetery, Spain, 2017. © Marina Otero Verzier

June 2017. An improvised plaque honors one of the victims of Francisco Franco’s regime buried in an unmarked mass grave at Guadalajara’s municipal cemetery in Spain. Bullet holes from the executions are still visible in the walls. Since the restoration of democracy and the approval of the Spanish constitution in 1978, the country attempts to construct an inclusive identity, with which all its territories and populations identify; a common cultural heritage that, with no doubt, includes and recognizes a large part of the population who suffered political repression for decades. The ongoing struggle for history and belonging is fought above and below the ground. Across the territory of the country, archives, storages, and warehouses keep away from public scrutiny the now illegal codes of victory of fascism over democracy. Outside, civic associations together with teams of archeologists, forensics, and volunteers remove the land in search of the hundred of thousand unidentified republican victims murdered by Franco’s forces in the killings and summary executions conducted during the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorship: those who lost their lives in defense of democracy, solidarity, social progress, and equal political and civil rights; who deprived the nobility of special privileges, established freedom of speech and association, defended public education and emancipation of women, and introduced women’s suffrage.

Marina Otero Verzier

Marina Otero Verzier is Director of Research at Het Nieuwe Instituut, and Curator of WORK, BODY, LEISURE, the Dutch Pavilion at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. With the After Belonging Agency, Otero was Chief Curator of the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016, which addressed the implications of architecture in contemporary processes of displacement and identity construction.