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Du combattant volontaire international au soldat-militant transnational : le volontariat étranger antifasciste durant la guerre d’Espagne (1936-1938)

Abstract : International war volunteerism during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) is a widely studied topic and frequently called upon the contemporary politics about transnational volunteerism, in accordance with the originality of the phenomenon during this time, through the background of the “European Civil War”. However, the famous International Brigades have captured all the attention of historiography, concealing the phenomenon under its main manifestation. As a result, international war volunteerism has not yet been considered from a global perspective, as a singular sequence of a recurrent transnational phenomenon in which the International Brigades constitute a highly idiosyncratic object in themselves. Based on a largely unpublished corpus of archives, this thesis focuses on highlighting the phenomenon of international war volunteerism during the Spanish Civil War by considering its predominantly anti-fascist, pro-Republican dimension. This perspective has therefore led to an exercise in redefining and reinterpreting the place of the International Brigades both in the transnational geopolitical and cultural strategies of the communist movement, and in the wider field of anti-fascism in the mid-1930s. The heuristic thread is based on three major problematic lines. The first one proceeds with a change of scale in the analysis of the phenomenon, by reversing the usual perspective of social history, which takes as a postulate the volunteers alone, and by considering the phenomenon from a systemic point of view in order to reveal the impulse behind it as well as the space it occupies. The second proposes to disengage the phenomenon from the shadow of the International Brigades so as to observe and compare its various manifestations, reveal their plurality and variety, and examine their presence and relations both with each other and with the event. The third one considers the political intentions and destinations which determined the scale, periodicity and varieties of the phenomenon. This heuristic thread makes it possible to reconsider the historicity of the phenomenon as a sequence of a long history of which it bears the traces and pursues the inheritance, while emphasizing its dependence on circumstantial partisan logics. The thesis is divided into four diachronic, chronologically-sequenced parts. The first two deal with the period from July 1936 to September 1937 while the last two cover the period from October 1937 to October 1938. Two of the parts --the first and third ones-- consider the phenomenon in its entirety, while the other two --the second and fourth-- are entirely devoted to the International Brigades, from the vantage point of their origins, intentions and situation in the phenomenon. The first part takes the shape of a description and inventory of the phenomenon, whereas the second part observes the appearance of the International Brigades and the designs pursued by the Communist International in their creation. The third part is devoted to the transformations undergone by the phenomenon during its Spanish immersion, and to the processes that led to its reduction and extinction. The last part considers the International Brigades as they became the only manifestation of the phenomenon during their last year of existence, and the consequences for them of the aggiornamento of the Spanish policy of the Comintern.
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Submitted on : Monday, July 20, 2020 - 11:25:25 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - 5:36:52 AM


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  • HAL Id : tel-02902706, version 1



Édouard Sill. Du combattant volontaire international au soldat-militant transnational : le volontariat étranger antifasciste durant la guerre d’Espagne (1936-1938). Histoire. Université Paris sciences et lettres, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019PSLEP026⟩. ⟨tel-02902706⟩



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