Mercedes Kemp/Helen Graham – A Death in Zamora: the murder of Amparo Barayón and the Francoist treatment of women

Event Date: 18 October 2018
Cañada Blanch Seminar Room 1.11
Cowdray House
Portugal Street,
LSE
London WC2A 2HT

The Cañada Blanch Centre presents:

A Death in Zamora: the murder of Amparo Barayón and the Francoist treatment of women

A case study of a notorious example of the Francoist persecution of women during the Spanish Civil War. Three experts will discuss what happened to innocent civilians during the Spanish conflict through the investigation into the fate of Amparo Barayón carried out by his son, Ramón Sender-Barayón.

One of the least-known aspects of the repression against civilians carried out by the supporters of the military coup of 17-18 July 1936 in Spain is the scale of their systematic persecution of women. Murder, torture and rape were generalised punishments for the gender liberation embraced by most liberal and left-wing women during the Republican period. An extreme example of the repression of women was the fate of Amparo Barayón, the wife of the novelist Ramón J. Sender. Immediately after the coup, Sender had sent Amparo and their two children to her home city of Zamora where he believed they would be safe. There she was imprisoned along with her seven-month-old daughter, Andrea, after protesting about the murder of her brother Antonio (two of her brothers would be extradjudicially killed). She was mistreated and then extrajudicially executed on 11 October 1936. Her ‘crime’ included being a modern, independent woman who had escaped the stultifying bigotry of Zamora, and had children with a man to whom she was married only in a civil ceremony. The seminar will discuss the story of Amparo and also of the Barayóns as an extended and diasporic family, from 1936 to the present, in order to understand the unfinished business of that long-ago process of repression: both Amparo’s children were raised by a foster family in the USA and scarcely knew of their mother’s fate, until as adults they determined to find out.

Mercedes Kemp is writer and Director of Community and Research for WildWorks Theatre Company and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Falmouth University. She was born in Zamora and grew up in Andalucía. For the past forty years she has lived in Cornwall, UK. She travels with WildWorks, establishing links with communities and developing text for site specific theatre. Her method involves a kind of eclectic ethnographic research into a variety of sources: archives, libraries, cemeteries, bus stops, town gossips, old photographs, conversations and, above all, a close observation of the process of memory and its effect on the value that people place on their environments. Mercedes is also grandniece of Ramón J.Sender and Amparo Barayón and has collaborated with her cousin, Ramón Sender Barayón, in the publication of both editions of ‘Muerte en Zamora’, Ramón’s account of his search for the memory of his mother.

Helen Graham is Professor of Modern European History at Royal Holloway University of London. She has published widely on the Spanish civil war in national and transnational context. She is currently finishing a book about five intertwined lives, which explores the dark mid twentieth century and its long aftermath. She has recently been awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for a study of Franco’s Prisons, 1936-76.

The Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies runs a series of lectures, seminars and debates in order to disseminate and encourage knowledge of contemporary Spain. It also sponsors the publication of an important series of books on contemporary Spain.

Introduction by Professor Paul Preston (LSE):

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