Conference Program


8:45 p.m

5th topic  : The Memory of Ladies

Film screening : Las Mamas Belgas (Spain 2016) and Résister au tyran (France, 2017) followed by a round table discussion.


1 :00 p.m. > La Coupole – Welcome Reception Welcome address of the organizers and the institutional partners.

2 :00 p.m.> First topic :  Foreign women volunteers in Spain: Presences, experiences, memories and silences

Emphasis on the efforts of women in the various national contingents of volunteers should reveal their presence as that of a specific social group and question the singular memory of women volunteers. This calls into question the singular memory of women volunteers, and therefore their place in memory issues inscribed in different historical, political and emotional registers. The emphasis of the collective and singular feminine paths will shed light on the differences of context that have been imposed on women volunteers, and reveal the obstacles and constraints encountered as a woman, as an activist and often as an immigrant.

2 :00 p.m. > Salle de conférence – Debates introduction :  Women among  the international volunteers in Republican Spain (1936-1939).

Speaker : Edouard Sill  (France, Historian)

2 :30 p.m. > La Coupole – Table 1 : Women from European and North American democracies

Discussion led by : Claire ROL TANGUY (Secretary General of the ACER)
Speakers :  Ramon CHICHARRO (France, ACER) : Les volontaires françaises en Espagne • Nancy PHILLIPS (USA, FALB) : American Women in the Spanish Civil War • Pierre OUTTERYCK (France, IRHiS-Université de Lille III) : Martha Desrumaux : une ouvrière française, dirigeante communiste, solidaire de la République espagnole.

3 :30 p.m. > La Coupole  – Table 2 : Foreign volunteers in Spain from an Iberian perspective

Discussion led by : Robert COALE (Université de Rouen-Normandie) 
Speakers : Josep PUIGSECH FARRAS (Spain, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona) : La particular mirada catalana al internacionalismo femenino durante la Guerra Civil • Isabel PINAR (Spain, AABI) : La  mujer española y su papel ayudando a las BBII.
Translation : Anna ROJAS (France, Université Paris Nanterre) • Héloïse VIAN (France, Université Paris Nanterre)

4 :45 p.m. > La Coupole – Table 3 :  Exile, immigration and clandestinity: Foreign women from authoritarian regimes

Discussion led by : Rémi SKOUTELSKY (Historian, author ofL’Espoir guidait leurs pas, Grasset, 1999)
Speakers : Hervé LEMESLE (France, historian) : Les femmes parmi le contingent de volontaires yougoslaves • Renée LUGSCHITZ (Austria, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften) : Underground to Light: Regained freedom and new responsibilities of Austrian female volunteers in the Spanish Civil War • Marco PUPPINI (Italy, Istituti di Storia del Movimento di Liberazione in Italia, AICVAS) : ¿Lucha antifascista como oportunidad de emancipación femenina? Mujeres italianas en España durante la guerra civil española • Ingrid SCHIBOROWSKI et Anita KOCHNOWSKI (Germany, KFSR) : La lucha de las internacionalistas contra la guerra y el fascismo en España.

Translation :  Anna ROJAS (France, Université Paris Nanterre) • Héloïse VIAN (France, Université Paris Nanterre)

6:30 p.m. : Espace Niemeyer – Cafeteria : Lunch concocted by the ACER

1 :00 p.m. to 10 :00 p.m:  Espace Niemeyer lobby : Exhibition (ACER and ONAC) : Levés avant le jour, les Brigades internationales de l’Espagne à la Résistance

8 :00 p.m. > Second topic : Unwanted : Internment in France of the foreign women returnees from Spain

 Like thousands of men with them, some of the women among the volunteers who went to Spain did not return to their country of origin, most often because they had lived there illegally before their departure, or because they had been deprived of their nationality, or because Germany had meanwhile erased their country’s map. They were for the most part interned at the camp of Rieucros (Lozère). Outside the camps, solidarity with the internees in France has perpetuated the international mobilization of many activists and militant networks in a globalized proto-humanitarian campaign

 8 :00 p.m. > La Coupole : Film screening : Les Indésirables. Film realized by Bénédicte Delfaut, France, 55 min, 2014.

This recent documentary, made for French television, traces the internment in France of foreign women between 1938 and 1940, called “indésirables” (“Unwanted”). It fully illustrates the fate of many volunteers who are nationals of reactionary countries, or who lost their nationality for their anti-fascist commitment in Spain and France.

9 :00 p.m. > Round Table : The internment in France of the foreign women called “indésirables”

Discussion led by :  Bruno BELLIOT (ACER)
Speakers : Bénédicte DELFAUT (France, reporter and film maker), Michèle DESCOLONGES (France, Université Paris Diderot, association pour le Souvenir de Rieucros, Maëlle MAUGENDRE (France, Université de Toulouse-Jean Jaurès)




9 :00 a.m. > Third topic :  Where are the women? Historiographic strategies, sources and innovative methods

This session will focus on how the history of foreign women’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War is formerly exanimated. Finding documenting sources is the first difficulty faced by those who have attempted to examine the subject. We will ask to what extent this classic observation of women’s history – the difficulty of making them appear in the archives – is further increased in the case of engagement in this warlike conflict. Between the biographical approaches, especially important in in this historiography and the approach by the organizations that were able to frame or organize this commitment, we will examine the possibility of analyzing the social trajectories of the women involved, from a perspective of gender history.

Discussion led by : Charlotte VORMS (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne- CHS) and Élodie RICHARD (CNRS, CRH-GEI)
Speakers : Paul BOULLAND (France, CHS) : Les femmes dans le corpus des volontaires en Espagne républicaine du Maitron : bilan et perspectives • Morgan POGGIOLI (France, Centre Georges 
Chevrier) : Les syndicalistes confédérées et la Guerre d’Espagne • Robert COALE (France, Université de Rouen-Normandie) : Le fonds Fredericka Martin de l’Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archive à New York • Seran DE LEED (Holland, Associate Fellow at ICCT) : Dutch volunteers in the Spanish Civil War – A focus on women • Erica GROSSI and Lorenzo DE SABBATA (Italy, EHESS CRH) : Une militance invisible. Les enjeux des représentation des antifranquistes italiennes en Espagne à partir de la base de données biographique Oggi in Spagna, domani in Italia.

2 :00 p.m. > Fourth topic :  Beyond borders. Transnational female involvement in the context of the antifascist mobilization

The involvement of foreign women in volunteering to defend the Spanish people makes sense in the context of the anti-fascist mobilization that had been developing across Europe since the early 1930s, although it obviously does not exhaust the terms of this commitment. The purpose of this session is to place the experiences of foreign women engaged on the Republican side in the broader history of female involvement in antifascism. It will analyze the characteristics of the mobilization of antifascist women during the Spanish Civil War, its specificities in relation to massively perceived mobilization as “masculine”, as well as the interactions between antifascist and feminist motivations, fascism being perceived by many of these women as a powerful instrument of female oppression. Through the analysis of the networks and also the biographical trajectories, we will question the thinking about the “Gender of activism” (Olivier Filleul) and the way in which this commitment of the women modifies, or not, the sexual distribution of the militant work – which often confines women to caring and beneficent duties traditionally perceived as feminine – as is, in general, the social image of women and the established gender roles.

Discussion led by : François GODICHEAU (Université de Toulouse)
Speakers : Laura BRANCIFORTE (Spain, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) : Mujeres italianas del Socorro Rojo internacional en la Guerra de España• Valentin CIONINI (France, historian) : L’engagement féminin dans une organisation proto-humanitaire et antiautoritaire : les femmes dans Solidarité Internationale Antifasciste • Corentin LAHU (France, Université de Bourgogne) : Du Secours rouge au Secours populaire : l’engagement des femmes dans la lutte antifasciste • Mercedes YUSTA (France, Université Paris 8 – LER) : L’Espagne dans le coeur des femmes antifascistes: le Rassemblement Mondial des Femmes de 1934 à 1939 • Franziska ZAUGG (Switzerland, Universität Bern – Historisches Institut) : ’La Rubia‘ – Clara Thalmann a Swiss agitator, fighter and wife.


8 :45 p.m. > Fifth topic : The memory of ladies

In 2016, a class of the French Lycée of Madrid accompanied by two teachers, prepared as part of the “Portraits d’Europe Project” initiated by the European Union and the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) an educational project around the documentary Las Mamas Belgas retracing the story of a group of ladies from Antwerp in Spain. The latter, mostly from Polish Jewish immigration, socialists and communists, went to work as nurses in Onteniente Hospital (near Valencia). This singular memorial subject, envisaged and prepared by a class of French students in Madrid four generations later, seemed to us to deserve a special place in this colloquium, especially for its resonance and the questions it raises in relation to contemporary transnational engagements.

 8 :45 p.m. > Film screening

Las Mamás Belgas (Les mamans belges), 27mn, Spain, 2016.

For the first time in France, the beautiful documentary produced by Sven Tuytens for Belgian and Spanish TV will be screened.This film highlights the history of the republican hospital of Onteniente which was founded by the Belgian socialist labor movement. The staff was provided by about twenty Jewish volunteer nurses from Antwerp and Brussels nicknamed by the Spanish the “Belgian mothers”.

> Résister au tyran, (To Resist against the Tyranny) 33mn, France-Spain, 2016France-Espagne, 2016.
As part of the Portraits d’Europe project initiated by the AEFE, a third year class from the French High school in Madrid imagined an educational project based on the film Las Mamas Belgas, both a work of history, of memory but also of a great news. The class made an exhibition and a documentary on memory and the contemporary echo of these other girls, four generations before them. The screening will include the presences of the literature, history and geography teachers of the class.

9 :45 p.m. > Round table : The memory of ladies

Discussion led by : Eva TOUBOUL-TARDIEU (Université de Paris Nanterre) 

Intervenant.e.s : Yves HESS (France-Spain, Lycée français de Madrid) • Sven TUYTENS (Belgium, reporter and film maker) • Valérie ZYLBERSZTEIN (France-Spain, Lycée français de Madrid) •  Isabella, Charlotte, Armella et Raoul (France-Spain, students of the Lycée français de Madrid).



9h00 > Sixth topic  The foreign intellectuals and the defense of the Spanish republic espagnole

The mobilization of intellectuals around the world was a massive phenomenon during the Spanish Civil War, mostly grouped under the banner of anti-fascism. Among these “Volunteers with glasses” (according to Mikhail Koltsov’s formula), there are many women. In the Republican zone or from their country of origin, these journalists, philosophers, photographers and novelists have invested in the defense of the Spanish Republic through versatile action that led them to implement practical approaches which were specific to the intellectual collective. The reflection will be articulated both around the participation of these foreign intellectuals in supporting the Spanish Republic and around the writings that both have produced in connection with the conflict. In doing so, the biographical perspective will be privileged to uncover trajectories of engagement at the crossroads of the individual and the collective.

Discussion led by : Allison TAILLOT (Université Paris Nanterre)

Table n°1 : The intellectuals in the Spanish Civil war: from the front to the Congress of Writers.
 Speakers :
Lorna ARROYO JIMÉNEZ (Spain, Universidad Internacional de la Rioja) : Conquistar la esfera pública: la mirada de Gerda Taro sobre las mujeres intelectuales durante la Guerra Civil española • Jean-François BERDAH (France, Université Toulouse II – Jean Jaurès/CNRS) : Martha Gellhorn, la voix des victimes. Parcours d’une reporter d’exception • Jesus CANO REYES (Spain, Universidad Complutense de Madrid) : María Luisa Carnelli: acentos de tango y guerra en Madrid..

Table n°2  :  French women intellectuals in Spain

Speakers : Alexandre MASSIPE (France, Médiathèque du Perreux-sur-Marne): L’engagement de Simone Weil durant la guerre d’Espagne • Anne RENOULT (France, BNF): Andrée Viollis (1870-1950) pendant la guerre d’Espagne : reportages de guerre et engagement

Translation : : Anna ROJAS (France, Université Paris Nanterre) • Héloïse VIAN (France, Université Paris Nanterre).

2:00 p.m > Seventh topic: : Foreign women in medical and social actions for the Spanish people: trajectories and practices.

Women who entered the Spanish Civil War from a foreign country often did so in the context of medical and social assistance to the population making use of their professional skills. Thus typically feminine professions, such as nurse or shorthand typist, could be the vectors of this commitment. After disarmament of the women militia, this professional membership could also be the means for women who wished to serve in this war to do so. Some then improvised as nurses. Beyond a professional affiliation, the commitment in Spain is part of complex social, family, migratory and political trajectories. In this session, the modalities of this type of engagement will be questioned. We are interested as much in the organizations that supervised it as in the practices of this assistance to the population. We will analyze in particular the place of this commitment in the trajectories of women, upstream and downstream of this Spanish experience.

Discussion led by : Charlotte VORMS (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne- CHS) and Élodie RICHARD (CNRS, CRH-GEI)
Speakers : Sébastien FARRÉ (Switzerland, Maison de l’histoire – Université de Genève) : Engagements féminins dans les organisations humanitaires durant la guerre civile espagnole • Celia KEREN (France, IEP de Toulouse) : Une affaire d’hommes. Le Syndicat national des instituteurs et l’accueil d’enfants espagnols en France (1936-1939) • Linda PALFREEMAN (Spain Universidad de Alicante) : British women in southern Spain: humanitarian initiatives launched after the fall of Málaga • Édouard SILL (France, EPHE) : Celles du Yiddishland : les volontaires juives, un groupe majoritaire problématique.

5:45 p.m > Eighth topic: :  Perspectives and continuities. From Spain to Rojava: internationalism and transnational feminine commitments, 1938 – 2018.internationalismes et engagements féminins transnationaux de 1938 à 2018

The conference will be closed by a round table on the itineraries of foreign volunteers and activists after the Spanish Civil War and the different transnational feminine commitments up to the present day. The immediate continuities and inheritances of the engagement of the foreign women during the Spanish Civil War are numerous, from the Second World War to Latin America and within the international solidarities with anti-colonial struggles. This round table will highlight the post-communist forms of internationalism and the milestones inherited from the Spanish Civil War in transnational feminist militant actions in the 21st century.

Discussion led by : Édouard SILL (EPHE)
Speakers : Olivier GROJEAN (France, CETOBaC EHESS) • Diego Gaspar CELAYA (Spain, Universidad de Alcalá) •  Henriette STEINBERG (France,  Secretary General of the Board of Directors of the Secours Populaire Français)

7:45 p.m > Conference conclusion