The routes to exile

France and the Spanish Civil War refugees, 1939-2009

By Scott Soo

The routes to exile

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8691-5
  • Pages: 304
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: September 2013
  • BIC Category: Modern History, History, European history, Europe, HISTORY / Europe / France, HISTORY / Europe / General, Humanities / European history
  • Series: Studies in Modern French and Francophone History


As they trudged over the Pyrenees, the Spanish republicans became one of the most iconoclastic groups of refugees to have sought refuge in twentieth-century France. This book explores the array of opportunities, constraints, choices and motivations that characterised their lives. Using a wide range of empirical material, it presents a compelling case for rethinking exile in relation to refugees' lived experiences and memory activities. The major historical events of the period are covered: the development of refugees' rights and the 'concentration' camps of the Third Republic, the para-military labour formations of the Second World War, the dynamics shaping resistance activities, and the role of memory in the campaign to return to Spain. This study additionally analyses how these experiences have shaped homes and France's memorial landscape, thereby offering an unparalleled exploration of the long-term effects of exile from the mass exodus of 1939 through to the seventieth-anniversary commemorations in 2009.


'The quality of the historical research behind this publication is excellent. The narrative and arguments of the book are supported by detailed multi-archival research, interviews conducted during the 2000s, and a solid theoretical basis. [.] Soo's book can be praised for providing a highly readable and updated account in English on the history of Spanish republican exiles in France. Learning about the intricacies of the historical relationship between refugees and the modern nation-state is enlightening and-taking into account pressing concerns.'
Ángel Alcalde, Independent Scholar, American Historical Review


Introduction: coming to terms with the Spanish republican exile in France
Part I: The onset of exile
1 Unravelling rights and identities: the exodus of 1939
2 Reception, internment and repatriation, 1939-40
3 Organisations, networks and identities, 1939-40
Part II: Working in from the margins
4 Ambiguities at work: refugees and the French war economy, 1939-40
5 Work, surveillance, refusal and revolt in Vichy and German-Occupied France, 1940-44
Part III: Aspirations of return, commemoration and home
6 Mobilisation, commemoration and return, 1944-55
7 Moving memories, 1970-2009
Conclusion: trajectories and legacies


Scott Soo is Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Southampton

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