Barcelona diary: Celebrating radical history

Barcelona diary: Celebrating radical history

Recently I was lucky enough to take part in a meeting of radical historians in Barcelona. The event was billed as “a meeting of colleagues and comrades, all active in interpreting and bringing out the radical history of the place where they live”.

As well as sharing experiences and having a good time, the gathering was aimed at establishing “a more or less formal network/platform for the future. An international network of independent tour guides, street storytellers and historical activists”.

Radical historians and tour guides from Dublin, Barcelona, Olso, Berlin and London were present, as well as members of the RaspouTeam who make innovative use of street art, QR codes and radio to celebrate the revolutionary history of Paris. For my own part, I delivered a presentation on Liverpool’s history from an anarcho-syndicalist viewpoint, including some general history of the Solidarity Federation (which goes back to the founding of the Syndicalist Workers’ Federation in 1950), of which I am a member. Also participating and helping to facilitate the meeting was a CNT member who has set up a bar off La Rambla called La Llibertària, which is run as a workers co-operative. The walls of the bar are covered in posters, photographs and original newspapers from the Spanish revolution and it is well worth a visit for anyone spending time in the city.

After the first meeting, Nick Lloyd took us on his excellent Spanish civil war tour, taking in some of the key locations of the conflict and bringing to life many of the inspiring and tragic events of the libertarian revolution.

On the second day, we visited El Fossar de la Pedrera (The Grave of the Quarry), the final resting place of thousands of Franco’s victims. In 2011, the CNT placed a permanent memorial here to those in the libertarian movement who died fighting for freedom and the social revolution. We also took the opportunity of visiting the grave of Buenaventura Durruti (who lies alongside his comrade Francisco Ascaso and the radical education reformer Francisco Ferrer i Guàrdia), something I had wanted to do for many years.

The two days we all spent together was a great opportunity to share ideas and experiences. The working title of the co-operative project is the History From Below network; a website is planned and possibly a book in the future. We also intend to meet on an annual basis, with next year’s conference to be held in Berlin with, hopefully, even more participants. Encouragingly, far from being merely historical anoraks, everyone involved is aware of the importance of linking the working-class struggles of the past to those of today.

At the time of writing, the draft mission statement of the network reads as follows:

"This is an international cooperative network of historical activists, all active in interpreting and bringing out the history from below of the place where they live. We celebrate the achievements of the past and link their struggles to today's fight for a better world. We believe unreservedly in internationalism and the shared history of these common struggles, recognising and seeking to discover the common heritage of ordinary people’s lives from Dublin to Berlin."

Posted By

Oct 26 2012 20:04


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Oct 27 2012 09:08

Excellent post!
If you have any more info on how to get a visit to The Grave of the Quarry and what street the La Libertaria bar is on that would be great.

Oct 27 2012 15:44

Thanks freemind. La Llibertaria is on Carrer dels Tallers (number 48), not far off La Rambla, dead easy to find. The graveyard is more tricky to get to, it's round the back of Montjuich mountain and you're best getting a guide such as Nick to take you there.

Oct 27 2012 16:51

Gonzo kid:
Many thanks for the info;went to Barcelona in 1997 with a few DAM comrades and tried to find Durruti's grave but failed to locate it.I contacted Nick's website and was very impressed and when I get some cash together I'm going to Barcelona.Ive been to the city 4 times but when I went in 1997 the "guide"was useless so it's good to have info on someone who knows what he's doing.I did find a CNT/Anarchist bookshop in the Northern Quarter which had many books that would be great to translate eg;Anarchist economics etc

Oct 27 2012 21:03

Great! Keep us posted re the website and network, really interested to see where that goes : )

Oct 29 2012 06:17

Great post! it is really interesting. smile

Dec 2 2012 11:57

History is the key. We have to write our own history, so what you're doing with others in Barcelona and elsewhere is much appreciated.

Dec 6 2012 14:38

Thanks for the comments comrades!