Annual Buchanan Lecture: 'Transnational Language and Conflicting Memories over the Spanish Civil War' with Javier Alcalde

4:00pm - 5:30pm / Wednesday 9th May 2018
Type: Lecture / Category: Department / Series: Modern Languages and Cultures Seminar Series
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Annual Buchanan Lecture - 'Transnational Language & Conflicting Memories over the Spanish Civil War' with Javier Alcalde
Wed 9 May 2018, 16:30 – 18:00
Seminar Room 4, Rendall Building

80 years after Franco's coup d'état, the country still ranks number two in the world on the number of missing persons, behind Cambodia. Different from other similar cases, such as Germany and Italy, in Spain the fascist regime never faced trial. This has had a strong impact on the official narrative of the War, such that both sides – brothers against brothers – are seen as equally responsible for what happened. Even more, in today’s mass media, it is not uncommon to find examples of a revisionist discourse, which argues that the four decades of dictatorship saved the country from Communism.

In order to gain perspective, it is useful to tackle this debate from a transnational approach, by focusing on sources written in the so-called international language, Esperanto. In fact, Esperanto was popular in the 1930s and played a number of roles in the war – it was used, for example, by the anarchists, the communists and the Catalan government. With some difficulties, Esperanto was effectively used also in the post-war years.

About the speaker

Javier Alcalde (Barcelona, 1978) holds a PhD in Social and Political Sciences from the European University Institute (2009) and an Executive Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs from Pompeu Fabra University (2015). He has worked as a researcher at the International Catalan Institute for Peace in Barcelona, at the Centre of Advanced Studies on Social Sciences, Juan March Institute, Madrid, and at the Centre of Social Movements Studies of the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence. He has taught at different institutions, including Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and Arcadia University.

Javier Alcalde has published extensively on topics such as human security, arms trade, transnational activism, refugees, pacifism and linguistic rights and conflicts. On public history, he has coedited the collective volume Antaŭ Jarcento. Esperanto kaj la Unua Mondmilito [A Century Ago. Esperanto and the First World War]. He is currently working on a complete biography of Eduardo Vivancos, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, and also explores the Esperanto workers’ movement in Catalonia before Franco. He is a member of the research project Militrakontoj (, a transnational view of World War II.