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e-xiliad@s Project

Published onFeb 14, 2021
e-xiliad@s Project


The project is administrated by the senior researcher, Digital Humanities and Digital History specialist, Lidia Bocanegra Barbecho, who had the idea for the project and the participatory strategy. The project was developed at the technical level by Maurizio Toscano, who specializes in information architecture and DH.

Project URL & Files


Poster: “Ten years recovering the memory of republican exile with citizen collaboration. The results of E-xiliad@s Project: a perspective from Digital Humanities and Digital Public History.”

Project Abstract

The website e-xiliad@s is a crowdsourcing research project on the Spanish republican exile. The aim is to collect and share online information on the Spanish republican exile from the period 1936-39 to the first stages of Franco’s regime, with an approach focused on digital humanities, and social history in its modern and gender-related implications. We have collected 200 profiles of exiled people, including more than 500 supporting media files and other archival records.

E-xiliad@s is born digital and uses digital participatory strategies in different phases. The core of the project is the creation of an exile record that corresponds to an exiled person who, with the prior consent of the user offering the data (digitised objects and/or digital data), is published in a specific section (biographies). The project has developed a participatory strategy based on "you give me, I give you" widely published in scientific literature and in open access.



Exilio Magazine. Camp Bram

How to create a record - Demo

Time Needed

When did you begin this project? When did you complete this project?

Time Span: February 1, 2010 - present

Length: 10+ years


What is the outcome of the project?

A crowdsourcing research project that uses a website to collect unpublished, internationally dispersed data from the anonymous Spanish republican exile.


What tools, resources, programs, or equipment did you use for this project?

The website was built in 2010 with what was, back then, one of the most complete software solution to create a multilingual and community oriented website: Drupal 6. The platform aged well in the last decade, requiring only periodical updates of the core code and the few modules used. Drupal 6 reached end-of-life official support in February 2016. Since then, we joined the Drupal 6 Long-Term Support initiative. A complete upgrade of the IT infrastructure is planned, but not scheduled.

The website initial development, subsequent improvements as well as on-going support and maintenance has been carried out by Maurizio Toscano.


Please describe any costs incurred for this project, and (if relevant) how you secured funding for these costs.

In total, the project has received approximately €15,000.00, not counting annual costs for server and domain hosting and IT maintenance. The project received financial support from the Ministry of Labour and Immigration in 2009 and the Ministry of Employment and Social Security in 2011.


Please give an overview of the workflow or process you followed to execute this project, including time estimates where possible.

The argument of the Republican exile has a very international character due to the fact that there are a great number of documents and photographs of exiles in many countries where these people were located. Only a stand alone data collection project such as e-xiliad@s could collect, with the help of citizens, all these sources and store them in a relational database.

Applying citizen science strategies, the project is born and executed from the academic environment, where the data provided by the citizens is supervised and the project is maintained. To make the project work, a communication strategy is implemented to disseminate the initiative and call for public participation. The project uses social networks dealing with Republican exile or related topics, e.g. Spanish Civil War, World War II, Holocaust, etc., in order to gain new users and communicate the results of the project to a specific target audience: relatives of exile, specialists, etc.

The submissions are collected via internal form, connected with the database and supervised by the admin of the project. To access the form the user first need to sign in by choosing a username and providing an e-mail address. The project will then send to the user an e-mail with the necessary instructions to complete the registration. This way the project guarantee the user privacy and security to all the data he/she add.

The form consists of a list of general questions, some of which are mandatory, exclusively referring to a single woman, man or child. It also offers open fields and the possibility to upload images and digitised text. Whether the user were directly or indirectly involved in the exile, he/she can contribute anyway, as long as he/she provide all the personal details required.

The records listed in the Biographies section are those collected through the Form. Only the records with a policy of public data sharing has been published. They represent a synthetic frame of the individual stories of exile, structured in a schematic way to stimulate a synoptic reading. The records are presented in the original language used by its author, ie French, English or Spanish.

The data and digitised objects obtained are made open access, subject to the user's consent, and are used to inform about the Republican exile, to produce publications and to recover the memory of the Republican exile in general. It is worth noting that the project is innovative, as some people have obtained, thanks to e-xiliad@s, information about relatives who disappeared because of the war.

Challenges & Opportunities

What, if anything, changed between beginning your project and its current/final form?

Depending on the specified data and their quality (scanned photographs, certificates, unpublished memories) the quantity, and the historical interest of the person, or the object (unpublished handwritten magazine, travel journals, etc.) the project created new ad hoc sections according with the quality and amount of the data gathered. Furthermore, based on the demand for information from users, the project created sections such as the bulletin board where users can request information about missing exiles. The project has also been strengthening its social networks (Facebook and Twitter), which now have more than 1.6K followers. This strengthens the participatory nature of the research project and helps create a community and identity of exile online and helps gather more data for the project.

It should be noted that the project has received in 2020, by the prestigious Association Humanidades Digitales Hispánicas (HDH), the Award for the Best participation/presence in social media 2019; coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Republican exile.

Is there anything specific you wish you had known when beginning your project that might help other people to know?

The importance of carrying out a good communication strategy at a social and scientific level in specialised channels (congresses and international seminars) and stakeholder places (clubs, associations) and to publish always in open access. This highlights the important role of social networks and their participatory and informative role in the project.

Next Steps

Do you have any plans to follow up on this project or work on something similar in the future?

Yes. It is a live project, which works mostly autonomously in certain periods, without any communication boosting and, in others, receives a boost at the communicative level from the Administrator and other researchers, collaborators of the initiative, in order to collect data. It is currently an internationally recognized project, not only among academics who cite and use the project in their classrooms and scientific papers; but also among the public for its role in documenting Spanish historical memory. The last five years the e-xiliad@s admin has been invited and participated in national (UC3M, UVA, UAL, UMA) and international (ADHO, HDH, Associazione Italiana di Public History, UNAM) seminars and conferences. For 2020, we plan to study the possibility of upgrading the platform to Backdrop CMS.

Publications & Presentations

Bocanegra Barbecho, Lidia. (2015). 'Cada día atrasamos el reloj un cuarto de hora para llegar con la hora americana'. Diario de viaje hacia el exilio. In América: Cultura visual y relaciones artísticas (pp. 363–372). Granada, España: Universidad de Granada.

Lidia Bocanegra-Barbecho. (2017). Identidad y pertenencia del exilio republicano español en la red internet: generando memoria y cultura a través de las plataformas sociales digitales y el uso del Open Data. In Decolonizando Identidades. Pertenencia y Rechazo de/desde el Sur Global. Granada, Spain: Instituto de Migraciones, Universidad de Granada.

Bocanegra Barbecho, Lidia. (2015). La web 2.0 y el estudio del exilio republicano español: El análisis de la movilidad social y el retorno a través del proyecto e-xiliad@s. In "Otras voces, otros ámbitos": Los sujetos y su entorno. Nuevas perspectivas de la historia sociocultural. (pp. 59–65). Valencia, España: Universidad de Valencia; Asociación de Historia Contemporánea.

Bocanegra Barbecho, Lidia. (2014). Memoria, exilio republicano e historia digital: El Proyecto e-xiliad@s. Quiroga, revista del patrimonio iberoamericano, 6, 61–63.

Bocanegra Barbecho, Lidia. (2014). Proyecto e-xiliad@s. Recuperando fuentes inéditas acerca del exiliado republicano anónimo a través de la web 2.0. 10.13140/RG.2.2.31463.19360.

Bocanegra Barbecho, Lidia. (2019). Public participation to recover and communicate the memory of the Spanish republican exile through Digital Public History and Open Data: the e-xiliad@s project. 10.13140/RG.2.2.33979.77605.

Bocanegra Barbecho, Lidia. (2015). Revista Exilio. Campo de Bram. In Actas del Congreso Posguerras: 75 aniversario del fin de la Guerra Cvil española. Madrid, España: Editorial Pablo Iglesias.

Bocanegra Barbecho, Lidia, & Yolanda Guasch Marí. (2015). El semanario Exilio y los intelectuales del campo de Bram, 1939. Laberintos: revista de estudios sobre los exilios culturales españoles, 17, 6–27.

Bocanegra Barbecho, Lidia, & Toscano, Maurizio. (2015). El exilio republicano español: Estudio y recuperación de la memoria a través de la web 2.0. Nuevo enfoque metodológico con el proyecto e-xiliad@s. Migraciones & exilios, 15, 113–136.

Bocanegra Barbecho, Lidia & Toscano, Maurizio. (2011). Informe 2010: Proyecto e-xiliad@s. 10.13140/RG.2.2.10763.75043.

Bocanegra Barbecho, Lidia, & Toscano, Maurizio. (2016). The Spanish Republican Exile: Identity, Belonging and Memory in the Digital World. In Cultural Heritage in a Changing World (pp. 237–253). Springer International Publishing.

Bocanegra Barbecho, L., Toscano, M., & Delgado Anés, L. (2017). Co-creación, participación y redes sociales para hacer historia. Ciencia con y para la sociedad. Historia Y Comunicación Social, 22(2), 325-346.

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