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Memory and the Cycle of Violence in José Antonio Labordeta's En el remolino (2007)

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Since the end of the twentieth century Spain has witnessed a boom in the production of films and publication of novels and books on the Spanish Civil War as part of a process known as the recovery of historical memory. While this is generally seen in positive terms, there is some disquiet about the potential for harm in too much remembering. This essay argues that it is important not just to remember past violence but to understand the nature of violence, and in particular the violence perpetrated in a civil war. En el remolino (2007) by José Antonio Labordeta is studied in the context of Stathis Kalyvas’ work on civil war violence and Judith Butler's notion of precarious lives as an illustration of both the potential dangers of memory and the need for democratic states to be built on a normative moral code which recognizes the worth of the individual.
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Keywords: En el remolino; José Antonio Labordeta; Spanish Civil War; democracy; literature; memory; violence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Birmingham,

Publication date: November 1, 2013

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