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Rosa-María Martínez de Codes

Rosa-María Martínez de Codes is Professor of American history at the Facultad de Geografía e Historia of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She has worked on Ethnic and religious Minorities in Europe, defamation issues and incitement to religious hate, analysis of phobias and religious stereotypes, religions and secularity in the West. Her recent publications include: Tendencias secularizadoras en un mundo globalizado, Universidad Sergio Arboleda, Bogotá, Colombia, 2015; Trends of Secularism in a pluralistic World (coeditor) Ed. Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2013; Los bienes nacionales de origen religioso en México. Estudio histórico-jurídico. (1833-2004), Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, Universidad Autónoma de México, México, 2007; Rosa María Martínez de Codes and Jaime Contreras. “Hacia una historia Atlántica. Visiones religiosas compartidas”, Anuario de Estudios Americanos, Vol. 67, enero-junio, 2010, pp. 189-207.

Making up history: iconoclastic conceptions of historical memory

When the political needs of governments require the remodeling of the past in order to justify a specific present, the legislator and/or the executive sometimes manage to build up and implement a certain type of historical memory. Taking up the words of French historian Pierre Nora in his Appel de Blois: Liberté pour l’histoire (1998) manifesto: “In a free state it is not for any political authority to define historical truth and restrict the freedom of historians under criminal threats […] In democracy, freedom for history is the freedom of all”.
For more than 50 years, the speeches of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) found a wide market, not only in Colombian political and intelectual society, but also in the Ibero-American space and even in Europe. Such speeches were issued in the context of violence in which the armed group itself was the main protagonist. For this reason, they entailed a subjective radicalism, the first “values” of which refer, on the one hand, to populist pacifism and, on the other, to a strong perversion of History, disguised, as memory.
The institutionalization of an “official memory”, made from presentism and presentist issues, can be seen as an iconoclastic manifestation of history, understood – on the contrary – by scholars as a continuous record constantly rewritten and re-evaluated in the light of the
old and new evidence.
This is the case of the so-called Historical Memory Law enacted by the government of Spanish President José-Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on December 25th, 2007, which: “recognizes and expands the rights and establishes measures in favour of those who suffered persecution
and violence during the civil war and the Franco dictatorship”. The memory of the grandchildren of these casualties was enforced, thereby erasing the consensus that previous generations had drawn up.

Key words: History, historical memory, iconoclastic laws