To admit the presence of a ghost is to establish a relationship between fantasy and national trauma. Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone (2001) symbolically locates in an orphanage the struggling sides of the Spanish Civil War and tries to come to terms with the ghosts
of the historical past by means of the repetition of a traumatic event triggered by the presence of the revenant, or ghost. The ghost as haunting makes the subject relive what has been silenced, allowing this to be intrinsically related with trauma, a psychical action that compulsively
repeats events that have marked the subject's unconscious. By taking fantasy as a scenario of desire, the ghost becomes the pivotal element in the film to establish a narrative form where the subject is able to define itself in a community with a shared traumatic past. The film screens
this ghostly fantasy as a permanent structure that mediates the necessity for war trauma in Spain's contemporary national identity. The ghosts in del Toro's film do not tell how to live with them once they are found; on the contrary, they admit the fact that they have always already been there
and that they need to stay to ideologically support the notion of a Spanish nation.
Journal of Romance Studies promotes innovative critical work in the areas of linguistics, literature, performing and visual arts, media, material culture, intellectual and cultural history, critical and cultural theory, psychoanalysis, gender studies, social sciences, and anthropology. The primary focus is on those parts of the world that speak, or have spoken, French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese, but work on other cultures may be included. Issues cross national and disciplinary boundaries in order to stimulate new ways of thinking about cultural history and practice.