Topics: Contemporary Iberian

HISP-S648 — Spring 2022

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Edgar Illas
LH 016
Days and Times
MW 8:00A-9:15A
Course Description

     This course will study cultural representations of state violence in contemporary Spain. While the study of violence in Spain has largely focused on the civil war and the Franco dictatorship, we will examine the continuation of state repression in the post-Francoist period. As French historian Sophie Baby has described in Le mythe de la transition pacifique: violence et politique en Espagne, 1975-1982, legal violence and police brutality remained widespread after the death of Franco. The new democratic status and the European Union membership did not prevent the state from engaging in open and covered violent practices. This case study will allow us to reflect on Michel Foucault's definition of state politics as “a continuation of war by other means.”

     Contemporary state violence has been particularly intense in three areas of the social: 1) the spaces of Basque and Catalan separatism, particularly in the war against the terrorist group ETA; 2) the control of migratory flows and borders, especially at the southern border with Africa; and 3) the repression of the precariat and the underclasses through police evictions and aggressive expulsions from the streets and public squares. We will examine the different tensions in these three areas of conflict as well as the structural factors that unite them.

     Materials will include a heterogeneous variety of contemporary literary texts and visual works, such as Basque short stories on police violence; novels on real estate speculation by Rafael Chirbes, Marta Sanz, and Cristina Morales; documentaries on lawfare against the Catalan secessionist movement; “anti-Spanish” essays by Galician author Suso de Toro; and artworks by Moroccan artist Yto Barrada on female smugglers in Ceuta and Belgian artist Francis Alÿs’s performances with kids crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, among many others.


HISP-S 648       #31859     8:00A – 9:15A     MW     LH 016    Professor Edgar Illas

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