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Lecture Series

27, 29 April, and 4, 6, 11 May 2010
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Further information

The memory of historians is a plural memory. Each historical problem is open to multiple interpretations, conditioned by the present-time, the initial ideology, or any of the different constraints that can affect the historiographic focus. Controversy, dissension and discrepancy is inherent to the memory of historians and interpreters of a past that has already died, and thus, may be rebuilt in different ways. The differences in the process of elaborating historical tales are due to several factors. In the case of Spanish historians there have been three variables that have generated the strongest confrontations: ideology, with the traditional bipolarization between the cliché catholic-conservative and liberal-progressive; the national concept (a vertical Spain versus a horizontal Spain, State nationalism versus State-independent nationalisms or secessionism); and the interpretation of the method and role that history should have, with the confrontation between traditional historians and critical historians, which has been harshly proposed in relation to the original identity signs of Spain. The national identity and the political-religious discourse are at the front of the periodic quarrels between historians. Obviously, the debates between Spanish historians exist since the birth of Spanish History itself: the work of Mariana created an enormous amount of controversy between its supporters and critics, and 18th century confrontations between the critical mayansians and the traditionalists like Flórez are well known. The same is true for the quarrels around the famous invectives of Nicolás Masson between apologists (Forner) and those critic with the culture of the Spanish Golden Age.

In this series of conferences we will only address the most important clashes between historians from the 19th century and on. Firstly, we will analyze the historiographic battle focused on the Inquisition between its critics (Puigblanc, Llorente) and its apologists (Diego de Cádiz, Alvarado…), before and after the Holy Office is dismantled, with all the debates on the background that arose around freedom and religious tolerance between conservative and liberal historians. We will also dissect the confrontation between secessionism and state nationalism that began on the 18th century (Larramendi vs Mayans), a war that reached its climax in the Basque Country just before the Carlist Wars (Llorente versus Aranguren and Sobredo), and later (Sánchez Silva against Egaña or Barroeta; Cánovas against Pi y Margall; Valera or Núñez de Arce against Navarro Villoslada or Campion). We will also address the controversy of Spanish science that confronted Menéndez Pelayo against the krausists and future neoliberal institutionists (Azcárate, Perojo, Revilla), which is basically an extension of the Inquisition controversy of the first half of the 19th century, although the core of the discussion went beyond the Inquisition's procedures and focused on its role and effect over the Spanish culture. Later, we will go back to the debate on the identity keys that mark the historical origins of Spain, which face the vision of Américo Castro, who defended the role of muslims and jews, together with the christians, as the main doers of the Spanish identity, against the vision of Sánchez Albornoz, in favor of roman and gothic roots that leave the muslims and jews as minor influences over the christian culture.

Finally, we will examine the historiographic controversies on the evaluation of the Republic, Civil War and Franco period. Most old ideological confrontations refer to these: the memory of conservatives against the memory of progressives, the tensions between scientific history and trivialization of the media, and the clash between the reconciling memory of the Transition and the avenging memory of those that see the Transition as movement of interested silence and oblivion forced by the circumstances.

This series of lectures of the Fundación March will allow us to identify the "puncto dolentia" of our history, the topics regarding the past that have raised more interest in Spanish society (anxiety for roots, historical milestones that have divided spaniards, the limits of reality and imagination) and the transcendental role that historians, providing their diagnostic explanations in each case, have had in each moment.

Fundación Juan March
Castelló, 77 – 28006 MADRID – Spain
+34 91 435 42 40 – Fax: +34 91 576 34 20