The Knife that Still Divides: The Archive of Salamanca and the Heritage of Spain's Civil War in the 21st century
Arts and Social Scienses Journal
From 1936 to 1939 a civil war ravaged Spain, resulting in the establishment of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco and the beginning of decades of a totalitarian regime and the suspension of democracy in the country. As with any armed conflict, art and cultural heritage were victimized: even the deadly toll on human lives was considerable, the conflict affected the preservation of cultural heritage. One of the most important attacks to cultural heritage during the war was the
... r was the appropriation of the archives from the Generalitat (the government of Catalonia), seized by Franco's troops, among many other documents of people and institutions not akin to his regime. The archives created in the town of Salamanca stored an estimate of two hundred tons of confiscated documents with an important historical value; however, even though attempts have been made for their return to Catalonia (notably, through the passing of a law by the Spanish government in 2005), not much has been transferred to its legitimate owners. The article presents the case of the archives of Salamanca and discusses how the impact of a 73 year old conflict is still being politically and legally felt in the relationship between Catalonia and Spain. Particularly, the theoretical framework used is Richard Quinney's conflict theory, which assumes that the organized state does not represent common interests, but rather the interests of those with sufficient power to control its operations, resulting in the powerful being legally freer to pursue their self-interests, than those less powerful. The article concludes, based on both legal and political grounds, that Quinney's theoretical framework is a perfect tool for further research on the dynamics and conflicts of interest in both the relationship between the affected region and the country when it regards to the documentation seized during Spain's civil war, and how these conflicting interests are still active nowadays, decades after the conflict finished.