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‘Save Spain’: British Support for the Spanish Republic within Civil Society in Britain, 1936–1939

Mason, Emily (2016) ‘Save Spain’: British Support for the Spanish Republic within Civil Society in Britain, 1936–1939. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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While much has been written about British support for Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil War, this thesis offers a novel framework through which to consider this topic. It explores the popular humanitarian response to ‘Spain’ within the context of Britain’s bourgeoning civil society and popular political culture, following the advent of mass democracy in 1928. There has perhaps been a recent tendency amongst historians to underplay the breadth of British support for the Spanish Republic, and to suggest that the humanitarian character of this support was, very often, indicative of a detached and apolitical response. This thesis asks why the Spanish Republic had the unique appeal that it did, examining how people in Britain framed the conflict in Spain, and exploring what they did in practice in terms of raising humanitarian aid for, and awareness about, the Republican cause. In particular it does this by considering the response to ‘Spain’ within the peace movement, Co-operative movement and amongst British Christians. The thesis challenges the idea that many of those involved with the humanitarian campaigns saw Spain as a distant country and that they were detached from events there. It argues that, while political interpretations of the Spanish conflict were far from uniform, the plight and cause of the Republic resonated with notions of British identity in the 1930s, and with the crises that different groups and individuals perceived to be threatening their world order. It explores how the topic of non-intervention was debated within civil society and argues that support for this policy was not necessarily indicative of isolationism. It suggests that support for Republican Spain, even where it was largely ‘humanitarian’ in character, went alongside interest in the issues surrounding the conflict and is illustrative of a degree of both democratic engagement and popular internationalism within 1930s Britain.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DP Spain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Emily Mason
Date Deposited: 17 May 2016 11:47
Last Modified: 17 May 2016 11:47

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