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The War of Spain, between emptiness and excess

La guerre d’Espagne, entre vide et trop-plein

Repercussions, representations and reconstructions of conflicts marked by excess (1936-2014)

Répercussions, représentations et reconstructions d’un conflit marqué par l’excès (1936-2014)

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Published on Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Par son déchaînement de bruit et de fureur, la guerre d’Espagne a affecté les acteurs du conflit aussi bien que ses victimes et ses témoins, entraînant l’intervention de puissances étrangères, l’engagement d’intellectuels du monde entier et l’exode massif de citoyens espagnols. Son retentissement a été tel qu’elle a inspiré une définition officielle de la notion de guerre civile lors des conventions de Genève de 1949 afin de combler un vide juridique et de définir un cadre légal qui protège les civils des excès de ce type d’affrontement. Ces dernières années, la guerre civile espagnole a été étudiée sous différents angles, mais jamais ses représentations n’ont été analysées dans une perspective pluridisciplinaire qui s’attache au traitement de l’espace et des acteurs en mettant en regard tout ce qui a, intentionnellement ou non, disparu, laissé une trace ou été surexposé. Penser la guerre d’Espagne revient à poser la question de l’excès, que celui-ci soit une vacuité exacerbée traduisant l’absence – figurale, mémorielle, architecturale ou verbale – ou un trop-plein marqué par une prise de position ou une sur-médiatisation de faits, d’acteurs et d’espaces.



Because of the unprecedented rage of its outburst, the Spanish Civil war had a tremendous impact on the actors of the conflict as well as on the victims and witnesses. It led to the intervention of foreign forces, the commitment of intellectuals and forced many Spanish citizens to mass exodus. The impact of this war was so important that it contributed to the official definition of “civil war” at the Geneva Convention in 1949, in order to fix legal context for the protection of civilians and so fill up a judiciary vacuum.

Many aspects of the Spanish Civil War have been analysed, but they have never been combined in an interdisciplinary perspective. Rarely do they mention all that have completely or partially disappeared, things that have left a mark or have been overexposed. To think of the Spanish Civil War would be tantamount to asking ourselves the question of excess. Whether it is an overemphasized emptiness that would look like a total absence − this can be expressed in terms of pictures, memory, architecture or can simply be linked to the speech − or the expression of an excess of commitment or support, silence that the winner or the stronger imposed on the weaker or the defeated. How about self-imposed silence? How about when facts are overstated or given excessive media coverage? How do artists represent and express inexpressible? How do town planners, geographers, sociologists, and historians see, study, use or represent the repercussions of all these dichotomous views of emptiness and excess in their respective works? How do they express things that are hard to say or express and how is it expressed in the Spanish society over time? The opposition between emptiness and excess will be the lenses through which the different marks of this conflict will be observed or looked at, whether these marks still exist, have been integrated to the modern architectural landscape, whether they have been erased, rescued from oblivion, totally or partially covered or have been kept in the space as well as in the memories of the people.

Geography and town planners will be dealing with blank or vacuum spaces or follow lands or all sorts of unused or underused lands. Comparison will be drawn between these unused spaces with overexploited or overused lands or simply spaces which have been integrated to the new landscape or city plans, or buildings with historical links or interest. Historians and sociologists will be concerned with the ways in which time can erase or blur memory and cause some stored information to vanish. On the contrary thoughts can bring some recollections to life or ignite them again. How could we balance all these? Isn’t there any risk for the memory to be manipulated? In literature and cinema the relationship between emptiness and excess will be linked to what is said, named or showed and to what is not, because of commitment, censorship, self-censorship, or propaganda.

In terms of time, we can compare representations, works and spaces during the civil war, under Franco, after his death in 1975 and since the ley de memoria histórica of 2007. Can remoteness from the concerned period contribute to the afflux of information and its reliability? Or does it lead to fiction and subjectivity? This question of commitment is crucial in architectural and town planning choices too, because they result from political decisions. Historians and sociologists could also be interested in the actors and the scenes according to the studies they have sparked off. What is the distribution between soldiers and civilians? What was the role of women and non-combating civilians? These questions will lead us to think of the notions of memory and forgetting.

The corpus embraces French, English or Spanish literature and cinema (fictional and non-fictional works), town planning projects and historical and sociological studies achieved between 1936 and 2014.


This seminar is organized by a group of PhD students under the supervision of teachers, university lecturers and researchers. It is part of the Young Researchers’ Programme of Université Paris-Est Marne-La-Vallée. It targets PhD students or young doctors, but any scholar who wants to contribute is welcome.

Scientific Committee

  • Nancy Berthier
  • Laurent Coudroy de Lille
  • Jeanyves Guérin
  • Georges Lomné
  • Gisèle Séginger

Submission guidelines

Abstract (no more than 500 words) to be sent to pjc.guerre.espagne@gmail.com, with a short biographical and bibliographic note, before April 1st 2014.

Selection will be completed by May 30th 2014. Selected articles may be submitted for publication during Spring 2015, in “Art et Savoirs”, a LISAA’s online magazine (http://lisaa.u-pem.fr/arts-et-savoirs/).

For communication in Spanish and English, an abstract in French will be needed.

Further informations

Travelling and accommodation expenses will be participants’ responsibility (or their laboratory’s). Lunches will be organizers’ responsibility for all participants.

International Interdisciplinary Seminar: “The Spanish Civil War: between emptiness and excess. Repercussions, representations and reconstructions (1936-2014)”

Université Paris-Est Marne-La-Vallée (France), Thursday 26th, Friday 27th, February 2015

Programme for Young Researchers, coordinated by Rocío Alcalá del Olmo, Jonathan Barkate, Morgane Dubos, Lise Fournier, Pierre Mendel Guei, et Nawel Sebih.

LISAA (Littératures, Savoirs et Arts – EA 4120)


  • Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée - 5 boulevard Descartes
    Champs-sur-Marne, France (77420)


  • Tuesday, April 01, 2014


  • guerre d'Espagne, conflit, représentations, excès, mémoire, oubli


  • Jonathan Barkate
    courriel : pjc [dot] guerre [dot] espagne [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Jonathan Barkate
    courriel : pjc [dot] guerre [dot] espagne [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The War of Spain, between emptiness and excess », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, January 29, 2014, https://doi.org/10.58079/paj

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