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Ashes & Granite: Destruction & Reconstruction in the Spanish Civil War & Its Aftermath (The Canada Blanch/Sussex Academic Studies on Contemporary Spain) [Hardcover]

Olivia Munoz-Rojas

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Book Description

1 Jun 2011 Canada Blanch/Sussex Academic Studies on Contemporary Spain
Olivia Munoz-Rojas critically examines the wartime destruction and post-war rebuilding of three prominent sites in Madrid, Bilbao and Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath. Each case highlights different dimensions of the material impact of the conflict, the practical challenges of reconstruction and the symbolic uses of the two processes by the winning side. The books reveals aspects of the Spanish Civil War and the evolution of the Franco regime from an original and fruitful angle as well as more general insights into the topic of wartime destruction and post-war reconstruction of cities. The title -- Ashes and Granite -- aims to capture, visually and texturally, on the one hand, the damage caused by the war and, on the other, the Franco regimes concept of the ideal Hispanic construction material. Written from an interdisciplinary perspective at the intersection of urban and political history and theory, planning and architecture, the book draws largely on unpublished archival material. Key features of the Franco regimes rebuilding programme are considered, such as the priority given to rural reconstruction and the persistent search for a national architectural style. The case of Madrid centres on the failure of the Falanges ambitious plans for a neo-imperial capital as illustrative of the regimes gradual shift from state planning to privately driven urban development. The case of Bilbao focuses on the reconstruction of the bridges of the city to demonstrate how, occasionally, the regime managed to turn destruction and reconstruction into opportunities for successfully marking the beginning of what was perceived as a new era in Spains history. Finally, the opening of Avenida de la Catedral in Barcelona exemplifies how wartime destruction sometimes facilitated the implementation of controversial planning, acting as a catalyst for urban redevelopment. Moreover, the opening of the avenue contributed to the disclosure of the ancient Roman city-wall, allowing the regime to appropriate the ancient legacy symbolically. Published in association with the Canada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies.

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"Reconstruction is a term often thought of in a physical sense, but using Spain after 1939 as case studies, both of these works challenge us to delve deeper into the meaning of the term and examine its implications for propagandistic, cultural and symbolic meanings. [...]Reading these two books together is a worthwhile exercise, and leaves many questions to explore. Olivia Munoz-Rojas emphasizes the gap between rhetoric and reality, and she underlines that the Franco regime was not only 'repressive' but also 'lethargic' and that the visions of a new Spain fell short given these attitudes (67). Viejo-Rose, on the other hand, believes Spain serves as an excellent case to study the transformation of landscapes through reconstruction and that it allows one to draw out the symbolic narratives inherent in the process of 're-visioning the nation' (197)." --David A. Messenger, University of Wyoming, Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies

About the Author

Olivia Munoz-Rojas researches on cities, culture and society from an interdisciplinary perspective, and is particularly interested in the visual and aesthetic dimensions of social and political processes. Her current research focuses on the origins, transmission and interplay of city images, the legacies of war and totalitarianism in Europe, and the aesthetics of revolutionary movements. She holds a PhD from the London School of Economics, having studied at and researched for insitutions in Spain (Universidad Complutense, CSIC, UOC, ETSAM), Sweden (Uppsala, Lund), the United Kingdom (LSE, BURA, Urban Age) and the United States (New York University, Harvard University). She has published on the topic of urban destruction and reconstruction in the Journal of War and Culture Studies and the International Journal of Iberian Studies, among others; as well as in other fields, including suburban regeneration and comparative education. She also writes for non-academic media. Currently she lives in Paris, and this is her first single-authored book.

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