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Estudios de historia moderna y contemporánea de México

Print version ISSN 0185-2620

Estud. hist. mod. contemp. Mex  n.45 Ciudad de México Jan./Jun. 2013




Andrea Pagni (ed.), El exilio republicano español en México y Argentina. Historia cultural, instituciones literarias, medios


Marion Vera Röwekamp


Erlangen/Nuremberg, Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2011, 212 p.


Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Coordinación de Humanidades Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas. Becaria postdoctoral


The anthology is result of a conference held in Germany in 2009 on the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Republican Exile. It aims at contributing to the broad field of studies on the Republican Exile by concentrating on the crossroads of theories, cultural studies, its agents and institutions on one side and by focusing on the debates of the last ten years that, by including new theoretical approaches, allow new perspectives on the Republican exile. Amazing enough that means for the editor to contemplate another time more the intellectual exile that has been the undisputed focus of research since research started on the Republican exile. The anthology wants to add new perspectives in this area by focusing on the spaces in which the actors inserted themselves, in which they contributed to a change and in which they moved, as well as on the processes and activities that they initiated in cultural history and the transformations in the respective intellectual field —from the academia, the editorial industry until the visual cultural and the way they were incorporated. Thus it does aim in the end at the same actors and processes that have been described already many times. That, on the other hand, does not mean that the single articles in the anthology don't contribute to new perspectives on the Republican Exile.

But the anthology does incorporate a newer approach to the Republican Exile in Latin American by choosing a comparative approach, which naturally also has happened in the past. Especially French researchers have been dedicated to this approach lately.1 But naturally also Spanish speaking research as well as research from other countries has already contributed to a comparative approach.2 Here the reader is missing the contextualiza-tion of the current anthology in the background of the existing comparative literature in the introduction of the coordinator.

But let us turn to the concrete content of the anthology. It is divided within in two sections, the first one dealing with four contributions about Mexico, the second one with four contributions about Argentina. The editor chose these two countries because both countries are characterized in these years by an intense cultural activity that is partly due to the impact of the Republican exiles in these countries. At the same time the official politics in Mexico and Argentina could not be more different. Mexico under its President Lázaro Cárdenas all in all welcomed the 25 000 refugees while Argentina was less inclined to accept more than 2 500 refugees due to the restrictive politics of President Ortiz. Since the number of refugees in Mexico was 10 times the more important than in Argentina, it made for a special exile situation that allowed a self-exclusion from the host society. In Argentina that already hosted the biggest Spanish community outside of Spain, the Republicans had little chance but to accommodate faster and better than in Mexico. Taking certain differences in consideration, a comparative approach can teach us a lot on the differences and similarities of the exile situation in these two countries.

The first section on Mexico is opening with a short article by the Mexican historian Clara E. Lida. She summarizes her work by focusing on the reception of the refugees in Mexico and on the educational system, e.g. the Casa de España that was built by the government of Mexico for the Republican intellectuals as well as on the Republican school system that the refugees installed to enable their children to visit Republican schools. The next contribution is by the German historian Walther L. Bernecker. He chose the cumbersome task of putting together a collective review of the research on the Spanish Republican exile in Mexico. Due to its special exile situation the exile in Mexico is probably the best-researched field within this special field of exile studies. He introduces the reader to the sources, to the literature on institutions, associations and organizations, on the cultural (literature and editorial), on specific and regional aspects and finally gives the reader a historiographical overview. The very interesting one of the Spanish linguist Francisco Caudet follows the contribution on the national mystification of Spain in the exile journals and newspapers of 1939. Caudet is picking up on a very new trend in the Republican exile studies that attempts to ground the former research and to demystify many of the collectively constructed myths, especially around the intellectual exile. He is analyzing the exile journals from the perspective how the exiles from the very beginning were constructing a heavily national discourse on Spain that was partly responsible for the disability and reluctance to integrate into Mexican society. The article by the German linguist Friedhelm Schmitt-Welle is analyzing the already well-researched area on Luis Buñuel and the Mexican cinema. He questions first how Buñuel incorporated himself into Mexican cinema, rather than —as in most works— how Mexican cinema influenced his films. Sure enough, the perspective on how Mexico in general has influenced the Republicans and their work is one of the few research perspectives that remains almost not researched.

The Spanish historian Alicia Alted Vigil describes in her contribution the impact of Spanish Republican historians in Latin America. Though her contribution is the only one that chose a broader and comparative perspective and furthermore is very interesting by itself, it does contribute little to the comparison between Mexico and Argentina. She describes, building up on the work of Álvaro Matute and Clara Lida, the impact the historians had for the Mexican historical science and then chooses the life of Ramón Iglesia Parga, professor first in the Colegio de México and later in the us, for a more detailed analysis of the changes his conception of history perceived in the Civil War and later exile. Maybe it is less for the title but for the content, that the chapter is thus placed within the Mexican part of the anthology.

The second section of the book on Argentina deals with a very different exile situation. While the Mexico the refugees arrived to was multi-ethnical, indigene, overwhelmingly agricultural and political authoritarian, Argentina was more European, had very view indigene people, and was marked by the first political very restrictive "peronism" that didn't allow critical cultural engagement. Due to a restricted immigration policy Argentina didn't take a lot of Spanish Republican refugees, thus their exile situation was very different in these two countries.

The second part of the book opens with an article by Alejandrina Falcón that researches the impact of the 2 500 refugees in the cultural area. She focuses on editorial work that due to the industrialization favored a general increase of editorial work already before the 1930s but kept flowering with the impact of the Republican editors (as has been the case in Mexico). As opposed to the next contribution by Fernando Larraz Elorriaga that also focuses on the editorial work of the Republican exile in the time frame from 1938-1954. These years were called the "golden age" of editing because a number of collections were initiated, established, directed, written, translated, corrected, illustrated and produced with the influence of the Spanish. That went so far that these were even called the "editorials of exile".

Another aspect of the Argentinean book marked is addressed by the contribution of Patricia Willson who focuses on the aspect of translating. Raquel Macciuci is researching the influence of the Spanish writer Francisco Ayala García-Duarte, the last representative of the Generation of '27 on the Argentinean culture. In his 10 years in Argentina he worked for the magazine Sur, the newspaper La Nación and the publisher Losada. He also founded, along with fellow Spaniard Lorenzo Luzuriaga, the magazine Realidad. Diana Wechsler finally is analyzing the process of integration of the artist from the "generation 27", Manuel Ángeles Ortiz, into the artistic scene in Buenos Aires in his stay of nine years in Argentina. Thus, besides the last articles the majority of the contributions on Argentina dealt with different aspects of publishing, writing and editing newspapers or books and therefore provides more of an introduction into one cultural area than a general perspective on the Republican Exile in Argentina which would have been welcome. Furthermore the last articles concentrated as opposed to the title of the anthology that is dedicated to the Republican exile on the exile before 1939. Another element that is missing in the contributions, as is the case with the Mexican part of the book, is the reciprocal approach to the Republican exile. All authors analyze the Republican influence on their exile countries, but never the reverse case.

There are —as far as I can tell— two basic ways of organizing a comparative anthology. Either the contributions themselves are offering a comparative approach or the editor has to provide the comparative reading of the single contributions in an extensive introduction and synthesis. In this anthology none of the articles provides a comparative perspective on the respective exile in Mexico and Argentine. Thus the editor should have supplied the comparative view and a way of reading the differences and similarities of the special exile situation in the respective countries. Unfortunately this is not the case. The very short introduction is not sufficient for a comparative undertaking, neither by placing it into the historical, social, cultural background of the different exile situations, nor by researching the research background or providing the reader with the theoretical background of comparative working. Thus the reader is left alone with the partly interesting articles but without the comparison the project wanted to present originally. In this sense a big opportunity was missed.



1 Andrée Bachoud (ed.), Exils et migrations ibériques vers l'Amérique latine, coordinated by Pilar González Bernaldo and Fernando Devoto, Paris, 1998;         [ Links ] Ernesto Mächler Tobar [et al.] (ed.), L'exil espagnol dans les Amériques, Paris, 2011;         [ Links ] Fernando Devoto, Pilar González Bernaldo, Emigration politique: une perspective comparative: italiens et espagnols en Argentine et en France, XIXe-XXe siècles, Paris, 2001;         [ Links ] Claudia Dávila, Les refugies espagnols de la Guerre Civil en France et au Mexique. Histoire comparée des politiques d'asile ed des processus d'integration (1939-1975), Paris, 2009.         [ Links ]

2 Mark Falcoff and Fredrick B. Pike on the Spanish Civil War and its impact on Latin America, The Spanish Civil War, 1936-39: American hemispheric perspectives, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, c. 1982;         [ Links ] Norbert Rehrmann, Lateinamerika aus spanischer Sicht: Exilliteratur und Panhispanismuszwischen Realitat und Fiktion (1936-1975), Frankfurt/Main 1996;         [ Links ] Roger González Martell and Juan Rodríguez (eds.), La literatura y la cultura del exilio republicano español de 1939: Coloquio Internacional, Havanna, 1998;         [ Links ] Alicia Alted and Manuel Llorens (eds.), La cultura del exilio republicano español de 1939, 2 v., Madrid/Alcalá/Toledo, 1999.         [ Links ]

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