Digital Approaches

“Digital Approaches to the Spanish Civil War,” in Bloomsbury Handbook on the Spanish Civil War eds. Antonio Cazorla-Sánchez, Alison Ribeiro de Menezes and Adrian Shubert. 2023.

Drawing on the insights of digital theorists and attending to the methodological needs of historical researchers, this chapter reviews the crowded field of databases about the Spanish Civil War and Francoist repression to demonstrate how competing collections enhance different narratives and relationships to information while collecting, structuring, and providing access to historical data. The databases of the Spanish State’s Centro Documental de la Memoria Histórica (CDMH) and Memoria Democrática provide users with minimally processed information to serve or comply with State mandates, but the nature of the data does not facilitate meaningful relationships to information or add up to a singular narrative about the Spanish Civil War and Francoist repression. In response, some regional governments have stepped in to fill the void. Most notably, the Generalitat de Catalunya’s Memorial Democràtic has created a series of scholarly and mostly interoperable databases that disseminate democratic heritage and cultivate Catalan national pride by providing users with a robust environment for exploration and including researchers, administrative bodies, and civic groups in the process of systematically delegitimizing Francoist narratives and methodically recovering the lives and experiences of those who suffered under or mobilized against the regime. At the same time, activists affiliated with 15M have launched #15MPedia to build technical capacity and social infrastructure within the community while providing users with easily retrievable and reusable data. Enhancing the movement’s counter narrative of democratic deficits, the databases of #15MPedia’s Enciclopedia de Memoria Histórica emphasize the continuity of repression while modeling a commons approach to resource management whereby groups of citizens work together to co-produce resources as public goods.