Forgotten pilots, airfields and aircraft: A transdisciplinary approach to the memory of the Republican Air Force during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39)

F. Xavier Hernández-Cardona, Xavier Rubio-Campillo, Andrés Besolí, David Íñiguez, Rafel Sospedra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

As the adage goes, ‘History is written by the winners’, and the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) is a example of how difficult it is to revert this process. Franco’s regime (1939–75) developed a range of narratives focused on a) the justification of the military rebellion against the democratically elected Second Republic government, b) the ‘damnatio memoriae’ of the Republican armed forces and c) the development of a collective guilt about the war. The transition from fascist dictatorship to democracy did not contest Francoist official discourse, and forged a ‘pact of oblivion’ based on the idea that Spanish society should look to the future and forget about the conflict: from personal memories to cultural heritage. One of the victims of this process of targeted forgetfulness was the Republican Air Force because it was an uncomfortable thorn in Francoist narratives. If the Republic was immersed in chaos and its army non-existent, then how did it manage to contest the skies against the most modern German and Italian aircraft? This work describes the activities developed by a long-term public archaeology project designed to rediscover the memory of the people that formed the Republican Air Force. This multifaceted initiative explored the materiality of air warfare through a combination of battlefield archaeology, educational research, museum exhibitions and community engagement. The results presented here are an example of how community-based archaeology projects can promote new critical narratives and rediscover silenced voices even after decades of heavily biased official history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-27
Number of pages25
JournalPublic Archaeology
Volume18
Issue number1
Early online date3 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • aviation archaeology
  • digital archaeology
  • education
  • memorialization
  • Spanish Civil War

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