Ghosts of Passion

Martyrdom, Gender, and the Origins of the Spanish Civil War

Ghosts of Passion

Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: 8 illustrations, 1 table Published: March 2007

Author: Brian D. Bunk

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, History > European History

The question of what caused the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) is the central focus of modern Spanish historiography. In Ghosts of Passion, Brian D. Bunk argues that propaganda related to the revolution of October 1934 triggered the broader conflict by accentuating existing social tensions surrounding religion and gender. Through careful analysis of the images produced in books, newspapers, posters, rallies, and meetings, Bunk contends that Spain’s civil war was not inevitable. Commemorative imagery produced after October 1934 bridged the gap between rhetoric and action by dehumanizing opponents and encouraging violent action against them.

In commemorating the uprising, revolutionaries and conservatives used the same methods to promote radically different political agendas: they deployed religious imagery to characterize the political situation as a battle between good and evil, with the fate of the nation hanging in the balance, and exploited traditional gender stereotypes to portray themselves as the defenders of social order against chaos. The resulting atmosphere of polarization combined with increasing political violence to plunge the country into civil war.


Ghosts of Passion offers an innovative approach to the study of the Spanish Civil War’s antecedents by taking a look at the aftermath of the Revolution of October 1934. . . . Several elements make the book particularly interesting: the use of art and representation as a political tool; the gendered and religious messages embedded in the imagery utilized by both left and right wing factions to gain sympathy and orchestrate a socio-political sentiment that explained the violence that unraveled. . . . [A] timely and novel study of ‘memoralization’ and cultural history.” — Aurora G. Morcillo, Canadian Journal of History

“[An] engaging study. . . . With great deftness, [Bunk] sets his analysis within the broad context of memory and war in twentieth-century Europe as well as within the specifics of Spanish history.” — udith Keene, Social History

“Bunk has written a perceptive case study which seeks to explain the origins of the Civil War in terms of cultural factors, rather than economics, high politics and ideology as emphasized in the standard studies. . . . [I]t can be commended for expanding the interpretive framework for understanding this critical phase in modern Spanish history.” — George Esenwein, European History Quarterly

“One of the various advantages of the book is the way it fits squarely into Spanish historiography, aimed at professional Hispanists and historians, whilst remaining of interest to those working in other fields, such as gender and cultural studies. Students might wish to use the book as a reliable introduction to the psycho-historical dynamics in Spain leading up to the Civil War. . . . Ghosts of Passion highlights the deeply inculcated and dangerously self-renewing association of femaleness with either victim or enemy (sometimes by other women), which not only prejudices its (imaginary) representation in conflicts, but helps to start real ones in the first place.” — Robert J. Miles, Journal of Gender Studies

Ghosts of Passion is an important contribution to the historiography of the Spanish Civil War. In this convincing work of revisionist scholarship, Brian D. Bunk aligns himself with those who do memory studies and with a newer crop of Hispanists who see cultural forces as being just as important—if not more important—than economic or political forces in sparking the Civil War.” — Sandie Holguín, author of Creating Spaniards: Culture and National Identity in Republican Spain

“In this clear and accessible book, Brian D. Bunk complicates the historiography on the origins of the Civil War by injecting a cultural perspective and developing the still-nascent study of historical memory in Spanish history. He successfully links a single case study of memory (of the October 1934 Revolution) to larger interpretive debates that transcend the particular topic.” — Pamela Radcliff, author of From Mobilization to Civil War


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Price: $25.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Brian D. Bunk is Visiting Assistant Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Click here to visit the author’s website

Table of Contents Back to Top
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1. The Revolution of October 1934 13

2. Sacred Blood: The Martyrs of Turón and Conservative Politics 34

3. “Your Comrades Will Not Forget!” Revolutionary Martyrs and Political Unity 61

4. Grandsons of the Cid: Masculinity, Sexual Violence, and the Destruction of the Family 88

5. Hyenas, Harpies, and Proletarian Mothers: Commemorating Female Participation 120

6. The October Revolution in Democratic Spain 150

Notes 175

Glossary of Organizations 211

Bibliography 215

Index 239
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3943-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3932-8
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