Translation and the archive: a narrative inquiry into sites of memory and spatial practices at the Centro Documental de la Memoria Histórica, Salamanca

  • Lee Purvis

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is motivated to push the traditional boundaries of narrative theory and translation theory into a different mnemonic, textual and spatial realm: the archive. Through an archival ethnography carried out in Salamanca, the thesis takes as its focus a translational exploration of sites of memory and spatial practices at the Centro Documental de la Memoria Histórica (the Centro). The aim is to explore the hypothesis that translation must happen at the location of, and spaces within an archival institution, paying particular attention to intralingual translation. To carry out this exploration of translation and the archive, an analytical approach has been developed that combines insights from narrative inquiry, translation studies, memory studies and cultural geography, which is employed to examine narratives of the Centro’s history, location, and activities. The narrative inquiry brings together a diverse range of sources; personal and collective readings of space and place, primary interview data, and a critical interrogation of the Centro’s legal mandate. In doing so, the thesis demonstrates that multiple modes of translation have been, and continue to be, carried out at this state-run archive’s locations of memory. This is translation in a broad sense, which includes the rewriting of walls, such as the addition and erasure of language on the façade of a building, renaming place, repurposing space, and the interpretation of, refiguring of, and re-assignment of meanings to the Francoist-produced archive held within the Centro. Accordingly, the thesis responds to, and expands our understandings of, ‘translation sites’ and ‘translation zones’, in which translation is staged as a critical mode of inquiry that enables new knowledge about the locations and relocations of memory, while offering a deeper understanding of how and why the Centro exists in contemporary Spain.

Thesis embargoed until 31 July 2024.
Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsAHRC Northern Bridge DTP
SupervisorSue-Ann Harding (Supervisor) & David Johnston (Supervisor)


  • Translation
  • Memory
  • Archive
  • Salamanca
  • Spain

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