The Revolution of the Women Without Anything, Without a Name

By Coral Cuadrada

Undoubtedly, the events of 18, 19 and 20 July 1936 constitute one of the most excessively interpreted historical facts in recent Catalan history. And, all the same, after eighty years we still know very little about them. The originality of the 1936 social revolution, which was structural and inherent to it, goes beyond the Spanish Civil War and its end in a forty-year long Fascist dictatorship that masked the significance of the revolutionary brunt, or even beyond the tendentious readings from both sides –including the republican sector’s internal contradictions-. It stems from an insurrection leaded by its basis, by people from across the working-class neighborhoods of the city of Barcelona. Certainly, it was the people who had nothing –nor anything to lose- who stopped the military coup, inch by inch, street by street, practically unarmed and with the only collaboration of the Generalitat de Catalunya’s assault guards. It was the people who had nothing who mainly volunteered to the militias to fight the fascism at Zaragoza. It was the people who had nothing, especially the women, who collectivized around 70% of Barcelona’s factories (electrical industry, water and gas supply companies, textile and wood industries, harbors, food industry, transport companies, or metal industry), as well as a great part of the economy of the country (trade, food distribution, barber’s shops, entertainment shows, schools, media, croplands, swimming pools, or leisure facilities…). During those months, for the first and perhaps the only time in history, the women who had nothing except their dignity, did have everything. To them I want to dedicate my research and to pay homage.


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