Who were the anti-Francoist militants and what did they become? Considering the rich but eclectic world of Spanish anti-Francoist activism and the erratic quality of most movement organizational records, such a question sounds like the most quixotic project ever. Yet, quite a number of witnesses and participants, who undoubtedly possess rich and vivid memories of that time, are still alive.
Ariel Jerez Novara (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Complutense University of Madrid) and Pablo Sánchez León (Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, University of the Basque country) have gathered a team of dedicated scholars around them and in 2013 started the time-consuming and labour-intense project of compiling individual and collective experiences related to the fight against the Franco dictatorship and to the social mobilizations under the nascent Spanish democracy.
The first results of their research project Cartografía de Culturas Radicales – Trayectorias ideológicas y transmisiones intergeneracionales en el activismo político en España (1956-2011) (Mapping the radical cultures – Ideological trajectories and inter-generational transmission of political activism in Spain) are now available online.
Beyond the logistical difficulties of creating a body of oral testimony lies the intellectual challenge of using oral memoirs skilfully to raise and address important analytical question. Ariel Jerez Novara and Pablo Sánchez León employ oral history techniques to provide clues to subjectivity and consciousness, to illuminate the movements’ political culture, the experience of taking action, and the related evolution of individual and collective memories. The interviews, already available online on their website, highlight perfectly how oral testimonies are an important component to the tracing of the linkages among movements, revealing how activists shifted from one to another and drew lessons and inspiration across them.
The aim of Cartografía de Culturas Radicales (CCR) is not only about creating – in the fullness of time – an extensive body of oral testimonies, but also and perhaps more importantly, to engage with the complex issues of political socialization and intergenerational transmission of activist’s knowledge and know-how in the contemporary Spanish political context. Scholars’ understanding of the fragmentation and proliferation of movements in that anti-Francoist period and during the transition must be informed by more extensive research. Cartografía de Culturas Radicales provides one commendable piece of the jigsaw.