Department or Program



Why do some countries choose to remember past civil conflicts while others choose to forget? Following the Francisco Franco dictatorship, Spain institutionalized forgetting through the Pact of Forgetting. In contrast, Chile chose to remember civil conflict under Augusto Pinochet through multiple truth and reconciliation commissions. Through analysis of political actors’ arguments during periods of constitutional challenges and maintenances, I seek to answer how political actors use or chose not to use collective memory to make constitutional arguments. Spain and Chile provide key case studies given their contrasting institutional memory choices. To conduct this analysis, I examine newspaper articles, speeches, and advertisements from conservative and liberal sources. I will analyze two different periods: the 1980s and the 2010s/2020s. Specifically, the days leading up to and following the 1981 attempted coup in Spain, the 1988 Chilean plebiscite, the 2017 Catalan Independence Movement, and the 2020 Chilean plebiscite. I will examine the intersections between political conditions, the choice to remember, constitutions, and national identity. I suggest that the political conditions of potential transitions impact political actors’ decisions to utilize collective memory. Political actors employ collective memory to appeal to social cleavages when the state legitimizes potential transitions in state-codified referendums. However, when coups unconstitutionally threaten the stability of the nation, political actors suppress mnemonic narratives of civil conflict to unify the nation.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Richter, James

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.