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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Hispanic Literatures & Linguistics

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Barbara Zecchi

Second Advisor

José Ornelas

Third Advisor

Ofelia Ferrán

Subject Categories

Film and Media Studies | Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature | Women's Studies


This doctoral dissertation analyzes two autoethnographic documentaries recently produced in the Iberian Peninsula, Inner Memory (2002) by María Ruido and Swimming (2008) by Carla Subirana, where the quest for origins and familial truth constitutes a trope to deal with issues of collective historical memory and national identity. Both authors narrate an unsolved family history within the context of the Spain’s traumatic past: 1) María Ruido’s estrangement from her parents, Galician economic exiles during the years of development; 2) the ghostly presence in Carla Subirana’s family of her grandfather, who was executed in 1940 for being an anti-Francoist guerrilla fighter. My study of Inner Memory and Swimming has led me to identify a paradigm shift in films addressing the Spanish civil war and its aftermath, characterized by the emergence of women documentary filmmakers in the margins of the Spanish film industry and by the subjective, reflective, and critical standpoint of the war’s granddaughters. In this dissertation, I examine how the work of postmemory in these autoethnographic documentaries intersects with issues of gender, nation, and class while it also incorporates the experiences of the traumatic past that have been omitted from the official history and the mainstream cinema. With this aim in mind, I first offer a descriptive and critical review of relevant cinematographic productions treating economic emigration and guerrilla fighters in the period of Franco’s regime, as well as a comparison between those works and the alternative discourses of Ruido and Subirana. I then perform a comprehensive analysis of the family narratives in Inner Memory and Swimming employing a set of conceptual and theoretical tools drawn from documentary film studies, the theory of postmemory, and feminist film theory.