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Solidarity and silence: motherhood in the Spanish Civil War

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The subject of this article, the role of mothers in several Nationalist Castilian pueblos during the Spanish Civil War, provides insight into the impact of war on families. Regrettably, there has been little historical attention paid to gender in the pueblos during the Spanish Civil War. Due to the paucity of written records of the experience of motherhood during the war, this project makes use of oral sources. The pueblos under consideration here lie outside of the city of Salamanca, in the region of Castilla and León. The men and women of these pueblos recall vivid images of their mothers during the war, memories of overwhelming fear and onerous labor; in so doing, they reveal the inherent value of their daily life during the war. The perception of mothers, as portrayed in the prescriptive literature of the 1930s in Spain, conflicts with the experience of motherhood during the Spanish Civil War. An examination of the impact of this war on mothers in this region of Spain reveals that they, whether through silence or solidarity, developed a culture of coping, a vigorous motherhood shaped by the specific social and historical circumstances in which these women found themselves. A close look at Castilian pueblos during the Spanish Civil War suggests that the war altered more than the economic and political life; instead, as historians of other areas of Spain have argued, it shook the very foundations of the Spanish family.
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Keywords: Castilla; Civil War; motherhood; nationalism; oral history; pueblo

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Departments of English and History, California State University, Bakersfield, CA, USA

Publication date: October 2, 2014

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