An international event

The Year 2018 will close the period of celebrations, and scientific events organized around the eightieth anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, and the commemoration of the international volunteers who went to defend the republican government and the Spanish people, and quell the fascist danger in Europe. As such, the year 1938 is a unique date, marked by the withdrawal (the despedida) of the International Brigades, and signaled the height of international sanitary and humanitarian solidarity in which thousands of women were involved both around the world and as volunteers in Spain.

Dutch Volunteers: Ans Blauw, NoorDiamant, Trudel van Reemst-De Vries,Dinie Heroma et Jenny Schaddelee. Brochure Wij werkten in Spanje : ervaringen van het Hollandsemedische personeel in Spanje (IISG, Amsterdam).

One common feature of the various memorial and scientific initiatives is that none has previously focused upon foreign women and the international solidarity of women during the Spanish Civil War from a historiographical and memorial standpoint. Nevertheless, a number of recent studies testify to the of the interest of this premise. This observation is the motivation for the international scientific and memorial symposium planned in Paris for October 2018.
It is a question of placing the participation of women in the Spanish conflict within a European history of the transformation of gender relations in the context of war, to understand the evolution of the gendered modalities of engagement (political or humanitarian) to reflect on the role of the war in Spain as a formative experience for hundreds of women who then participated in the world conflagration or who invested this commitment in activism.


the subject deals with foreign volunteers, the role of women in the solidarity movement from abroad, and their action in transnational humanitarian initiatives during the spanish civil War (1936-1939).


This commitment by women is particularly interesting to study because it is the center of two major features of the conflict: its ability to generate transnational mobilization and the transformation of gender relations in a context of war, which echoes what Europe had experienced during the First World War.
This radical involvement of foreign women alongside the Spanish Republic, which was not self-evident, is undoubtedly an important milestone to place in the history of women’s political development and the evolution of gender relations in the long “European civil war”.

Fanny Shooneyt, dutch volunteer. Private collection..

«  The conference deals with European history, a pioneering transnational humanitarian commitment, and an international struggle for the defense of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms carried out by men, and women from fifty nations while Spain was burning at the center of world attention. »

The Spanish Civil War is one of the most studied events in 20th century European historiography. However, some phenomena related to the conflict are still unknown or underestimated. The ways in which Spanish women participated in the conflict on both sides have been examined in the works of Mary Nash, Angela Cenarro, Marie-Aline Barrachina or Shirley Mangini, but that of foreign women volunteering in numbers for the defense of the Republic in different ways is still poorly known, despite it having impressed their contemporaries : the participation of foreign women, engaged in large numbers for the defense of the Republic under various modalities.

The conference will be held the fourth week of October 2018, from Wednesday24 to Friday, October 26, in three locations in Paris.

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The conference is resolutely of international standing and has been developed in collaboration with several recognized French and foreign scientific institutions especially with project of the Université Paris Lumières called « Les non-lus de la contestation en Péninsule Ibérique (1926-2011) » and the Centre d’Histoire Sociale du XXe Siècle de l’Université Paris Panthéon Sorbonne. It gives a prominent place to recent academic work.
More than fifty speakers have been invited, the majority of them academics. The invited speakers and guests hail from twelve different countries.

The event, structured in eight themes, will be held in French and Spanish, with some interventions in English and German. The debates with the public will be translated to facilitate the exchanges. The first and the second day will be held in the Niemeyer area, a choice determined both by the symbolic character of the place through which the majority of foreigners leaving for Spain passed and by the facilities offered which are able to receive a large audience. The cinema Le Meliès (Montreuil) will held the second film screening by the evening. The third and final day will be held in the auditorium of the Petit Palais.

Access to the conference is free and free, subject to availability.

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