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Exile and Identity in Autobiographies of Twentieth-Century Spanish Women

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Karla P. Zepeda

In Exile and Identity in Autobiographies of Twentieth-Century Spanish Women, Karla P. Zepeda studies the experience of exile and its effects on identity in three autobiographies: In Place of Splendor by Constancia de la Mora, Memoria de la melancolía by María Teresa León, and Seis años de mi vida by Federica Montseny. These three prominent Spanish women of the Second Republic became exiles at the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War due to the onset of the Francisco Franco regime. The political expatriation caused their relocation into various countries: the United States, France, Argentina, and Italy. The repositioning initiated a process of self-reinvention, as the women come in contact with social circumstances prompting new versions of self. Through their works, these women negotiate their identity in relation to the lost homeland and the new locale. Exile and Identity in Autobiographies of Twentieth-Century Spanish Women examines the diverse character of diaspora, the social transactions deployed in a variety of circumstances, and the self-negotiations elicited in social interactions. Identity proves to be an intentional re-creation of self, enacted in particular circumstances, and negotiated as a response to social conditions.

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Notes Chapter One 1 To read on Spanish women’s role during the war, see Mary Nash, Defying Male Civilization: Women in the Spanish Civil War (Denver: Arden Press, 1995); Shirley Mangini, Memories of Resistance: Women’s Voices from the Spanish Civil War (New Haven: Yale UP, 1995); Gina Herrmann, “Voices of the Vanquished: Leftist Women of the Spanish Civil War,” Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies 4.1 (2003): 11–29; Martha A. Ackelsberg, Free Women of Spain, (1991; Oakland: AK Press, 2005). 2 See Nash 105–109. 3 This provision was still maintained in the Law of Work Contracts of November 1931 (Nash, Defying 16). 4 This legislation was responsible for León’s separation from her children. When she left her first husband, her two boys were legally required to stay with their father. 5 For more on women’s organizations during the war, see Nash’s Defying, 63– 100. 6 Gina Herrmann (2003) addresses the change in the lives of radical women (specifically she deals with those who remained in Spain) as revealed in their oral testimonies. She argues that two divergent narrative patterns emerge: one pertains to the period before and during the war, the other to its aftermath. As members of a political community, the women narrate an exciting tale, but when the war comes to an end, they produce disconnected stories or silence themselves as a result of the perception that they are insignificant. •NOTES• 100 7 See Sophia McClennen’s The Dialectics of Exile (West Lafayette: Purdue UP, 2004). and...

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