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Elisabeth Eidenbenz’s humanitarian experience during the Spanish Civil War and Republican exile

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Although Swiss humanitarian organizations are meant to operate in strict compliance with the principle of neutrality, the Swiss Aid to Spanish Children organization, or Ayuda Suiza, centered the scope of its relief operations on Republican Spain during the Civil War. By analyzing the correspondence and photographic albums of one of its female collaborators, Elisabeth Eidenbenz, this article seeks to explain Ayuda Suiza's sympathies for the democratic cause as the result of the creation of a community of feeling according to which individual agents shaped their experiences through the mobilization of emotional practices, such as caring for victims, writing or taking photographs. I zoom out from a micro to a macro perspective to examine Eidenbenz's writings and photographs as manifestations of material culture produced to instill hope for the future among the victims of the Spanish Civil War. I consider these literary and visual documents not simply as historical sources but as emotional objects that encapsulate the past for present-day audiences.
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Keywords: History of emotions; gender history; memory studies; visual and material culture studies

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute for Ethics, History and the Humanities, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

Publication date: October 1, 2020

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