DOI link for Affective democracy
Affective democracy book
In this chapter, I analyze the kinds of affective historical experiences that are cultivated through Spanish mass grave exhumations. Over the past three decades, forensic science has become a crucial technology of democracy making after violent conflict for their ability to generate putatively objective narratives of past violence. However, absent any formal state-led program of historical reckoning, Spanish NGOs are incapable of establishing anything like the kind of hegemonic historical narration that transitional justice scholars envision as foundational to democratic citizenship. In this context, I show how Spanish memory activists utilize the highly technical procedures of forensic science to fashion a space for transforming people’s psychological, emotional, and political relationships with the past. Producing these new communities of feeling requires more than just recording highly emotive testimonies with victims. In addition, memory activists engage in a series of trainings designed to train people to sympathize with those directly affected by mass violence. The memory movement’s emphasis on fostering communities of feeling suggests the need to move beyond transitional justice’s singular focus on historical accuracy in order to account for ways postconflict democratic publics are established through affective bonds with persons both living and dead.