Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster „Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration“

Challenging the Symbolic Representation of the Dictatorship Past in Madrid and Lisbon

Street Re-Naming Processes Between Transnational European Frameworks and Counter-Cultural Memory Practices ‘From Below’

Dr. Ulrike Capdepón


This research project analyzes the topography of public urban spaces exemplified in the cultural politics of re-naming streets related to the respective dictatorship past in the capitals of Spain and Portugal. It deals with the street name changes as an act of replacement of symbolism after the end of the Franco- and Salazar-dictatorships. Due to the different constellations of the transition process in each country, the Portuguese Carnation Revolution, and the ‘negotiated transition’ in neighboring Spain, my underlying hypothesis is that the differing outcomes of the democratization processes are reflected in symbolic politics of street name changes in the post-dictatorship era.

Following specific memory cycles, I analyze the public discourses that have determined the presence or replacement of dictatorial memory sites and how they evolved over time. The project aims to open a comparative perspective regarding Madrid on the one hand and Lisbon on the other, adopting a Southern European, peninsular inter-regional perspective. The central research question underlying this comparative case study is, how the symbolic representation of each of the dictatorships in the urban memorial landscape shapes the current public debate, triggering counter-memorial practices ‘from below’ at the grassroots level. This research project offers insights into the collective and political negotiation of contested memorialization processes and how different political forces shape commemorative practices in the public sphere.