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Adolfo Sánchez Vázquez and the broken memories of Spanish exiles in 1939 in Mexico: A seminal concept for the sociology of the past

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By Laura Angélica Moya López (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico City)

Adolfo Sánchez Vázquez is recognized as one of the most outstanding philosophers of Spanish exile in Mexico. To mark the centenary of his birth in 2015 his work has been newly promoted and has stimulated discussion about prevailing concepts in his intellectual repertoire such as broken memories. With this concept the author referred to two different moments of recording and protecting the memory of exile: the first expressed the living memory of the witness and protagonist, characterized by the enunciation of the experience of those living aterrados, that is, decentred in space and time, uprooted and displaced.

Moreover, with the concept of broken memories, Sánchez Vázquez referred to the time of Spanish exile, characterized by the absence of an active process of intergenerational transmission of memory in the political discourse and in the writing of the history of Spain in the late 20th century. Understanding the experience of historical temporality has enabled us to explore the scope of this concept more deeply, beyond the author’s argument, and to show how broken memory is a seminal concept with which we can problematize what Gumbrecht calls production of presence, in this case, of the memory of exile. Therefore, two innovative forms of restored broken memory that makes present what is absent are posited in differentiated uses of the past. One calls for the production of cultural memory in the commemorations of the intellectual and institutional legacies of Spanish exile in Mexico. The other is post-memory, with demands, in a political sense, the right to remember the victims, the intergenerational transmission of memory and full reparation for the succeeding generation. Both resources enable us to shape it, to re-establish, incorporate, make present and partially repair the frustrated utopias, otherness, oblivion, ignorance, displacements and legacies of this generation of Spaniards.

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