Worker Antifascist Culture in US Spanish-language Periodicals
By Montse Feu, Sam Houston State University
[Featured photo caption: España Libre, Feb. 16, 1962:1. Founders’ picture. From left to right: Jesús González Malo (11th first row); José Nieto Ruiz (4th second row); Félix Martí Ibáñez (8th second row); Aurelio Pego (5th top row). Should readers identify people in photograph please email Montse Feu at mm017 (at) shsu (dot) edu. Thank you.]
Over the last decade and through several publications, I have shared the story of US Hispanic workers in their fight against fascism, which included fundraising for the victims, grassroots activism, and publication of periodicals. My book, Fighting Fascist Spain. Worker Protest from the Printing Press (2020), shows how workers’ print culture and politics, most prominently anarchism and socialism, shaped their antifascism. Likewise, my co-edited volume, Writing Revolution: Hispanic Anarchism in the United States (2019), examines the ways in which Spanish-language anarchist periodicals established and maintained transnational networks that fought for the emancipation for workers from the late nineteenth through twentieth centuries in the United States, and part of this fight was the eradication of fascism. With this in mind, I have recovered, transcribed, and compiled Spanish Civil War exile correspondence to show its effectiveness as a post-war communication method that antifascist leaders like Jesús González Malo employed to strengthen their resistance networks in the context of transnational anarchism in Correspondencia personal y política de una anarcosindicalista exiliado: Jesús González Malo (1950-1965) (2016).
I research this fascinating topic thanks to the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage program, which welcomed me as a research assistant while I was working on my PhD coursework. Interested in learning more about Spanish Civil War exile in the United States, I had applied to the University of Houston. My interest, both academic and personal, developed from the fragmented stories of anarchists, the Spanish Civil War, fascist terror, and transatlantic travels to the Americas I heard as a child. My research assistantship mainly consisted of recovering and cataloguing two Spanish Civil War Periodicals: Frente Popular (1936-1939) and España Libre (1939-1977). One of the first texts I catalogued was a refugee narrative. It portrayed refugees in their miles-long walk toward France at the end of the Spanish Civil War. The piece especially caught my attention because it described their crossing of my native hometown near Barcelona. From that moment, disseminating such hidden stories of resistance has been my calling, the root of much of my happiness, and the greatest privilege I have experienced.
Fighting Fascist Spain: The Exhibit, sponsored by the Grants-in-Aid of the US Latino Digital Humanites (USLDH) program, visualizes the story of the Sociedades Hispanas Confederadas (SHC) as told in Fighting Fascist Spain (2020). When the Spanish Civil War broke out, about two hundred US Hispanic cultural and mutual aid societies came together in what became known as the Sociedades Hispanas Confederadas (SHC). The SHC was devoted to its antifascist cause, particularly through its activism and the publication of Frente Popular (1936-1939), which changed its name to España Libre (1939-1977), until democratic elections were held again in Spain. España Libre (1939-1977) was the longest sustained antifascist bilingual periodical in the United States. Twentieth century U.S. Hispanic workers had a clear transnational consciousness: old migrants and new exiles from European fascism coalesced in overlapping communities across the United States and were linked to similar antifascist networks in other countries. Along with affiliated associations, theater groups, rallies, and demonstrations, periodicals provided public spaces of protest and solidarity in the United States.
Fighting Fascist Spain: The Exhibit intends to recover and make available worker antifascist visual culture. As physical objects, images in US Spanish-language periodicals are fragile. This digital collection will document otherwise disappearing memories of local and global networks of political protest and solidarity. Visual sources recovered in The Exhibit comprise but are not limited to:
- announcements and photographs of rallies and demonstrations, photographs and obituaries of demonstrators
- announcements of cultural fundraisers and the antifascist plays, photographs and obituaries of participants
- cartoons, and photographs and obituaries of artists
Fighting Fascist Spain: The Exhibit intends to support antifascist researchers, descendants, and the general interested public in their efforts to recover information on victims of fascism and their allies, rebuild broken family stories, and amplify the victims’ voice and perspective.
Montse Feu, P.hD is an associate professor at Sam Houston State University. Dr. Feu recovers the literary history of the Spanish Civil War exile in the United States, US Hispanic periodicals, and migration and exile literature at large. Her most recent book is Fighting Fascist Spain. Worker Protest from the Printing Press, (2020) You can find her online at: https://montsefeu.wixsite.com/montsefeu.