Episode 26- Digitally Mapping the Mass Graves of the Spanish Civil War

Episode 26 with Wendy Perla Kurtz

To this day, thousands of mass graves in towns and the countryside across Spain constitute a grim legacy of the country’s infamous Civil War.  Yet these graves themselves have their own politically fraught history as old as the war itself, and they now constitute the most important focal point of Spain’s ongoing debate about how the war should be remembered.  In this episode, Dr. Wendy Perla Kurtz traces this history and describes recent efforts to exhume these graves and give the war’s victims a proper burial.  She also discusses her own efforts to contribute to the historical memory through her online project, entitled Virtual Cartographies, which is an interactive digital map of all the mass grave sites in Spain where users can access multimedia documentation of commemorations that have taken place at each site.

The Episode

The Guest

Wendy Perla Kurtz earned a PhD in Hispanic Languages & Literatures from the University of California, Los Angeles. During her time there, Dr. Kurtz also received a graduate certificate in the Digital Humanities and worked at the Center for Digital Humanities where she designed, managed and contributed to digital research and pedagogy projects. She is currently a Lecturer at UCLA and a Digital Humanities Specialist at Gale. Her research explores the ritualistic aspects of mourning practices represented in textual and visual media pertaining to the disinterment of mass graves from the Spanish Civil War and Franco dictatorship.


The Virtual Cartographies project website: http://virtualcartographies.com/index.html

Suggested Reading

  • Bodenhamer, David, J. “Narrating Space and Place.” Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives. Edited by David J. Bodenhamer, John Corrigan, and Trevor M. Harris. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2015. 7-27.
  • Eiroa, Matilde, et al. “La guerra civil española en la actualidad cibermediática.” Studia Historica. Historia Contemporánea 32 (2014): 357-369.
  • Erikson, Kai. “Notes on Trauma and Community.” Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Ed. and Intro. Cathy Caruth. The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, 1995. 183-199.
  • Ferrándiz, Francisco. “From Tear to Pixel: Political Correctness and Digital Emotions in the Exhumation of Civil War Mass Graves in Spain Today.” Engaging the Emotions in Spanish Culture and History. Ed. Elena Delgado, Pura Fernández and Jo Labanyi. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2016. 242-261.
  • Labanyi, Jo. “Engaging with Ghosts; or, Theorizing Culture in Modern Spain.” Constructing Identity in Contemporary Spain: Theoretical Debates and Cultural Practice. Ed. Jo Labanyi. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. 1-14.
  • ———. “History and Hauntology; or, What Does One Do with the Ghosts of the Past? Reflection on Spanish Film and Fiction of the Post-Franco Period.” Disremembering the Dictatorship: The Politics of Memory in the Spanish Transition to Democracy. Ed. Joan Ramon Resina. Atlanta: Rodopi, 2000. 65-82.
  • Unearthing Franco’s Legacy: Mass Graves and the Recovery of Historical Memory in Spain. Edited by Carlos Jerez-Farrán and Samuel Amago. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010.

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