Isabelle Hollingdale


I am a first year doctoral student in the School of History, researching twentieth-century child removal in Spain and Argentina. My project is funded by a School of History scholarship.

I joined the University of Leeds in October 2023. I completed my undergraduate degree at Newcastle University, where I studied French and Spanish, and, during my year abroad, I studied at the University of Cádiz in Spain and University of Tours in France. I then undertook my MLitt (research master’s) in Spanish, also at Newcastle, and I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship from the School of Modern Languages to conduct my research. My MLitt focused on child removal during the dictatorship in Spain, exploring literary responses and the way that they portray victims’ experience of child removal. Prior to joining Leeds, I worked for a year as a fundraiser at Sunderland Culture, a cultural charity that seeks to improve the lives of everyone in Sunderland through culture.

My PhD builds on my MLitt research and brings Spanish child removal into dialogue with that of Argentina. I seek to understand what systems enabled the removal of children to take place, in both dictatorship and democracy, and how this practice impacted and continues to impact those affected by it, primarily mothers and their children, now adults. I also look at the silence that continues to surround this issue, and activist groups that have formed in each country, to break that silence, and demand support for those affected by child removal to find their loved ones. I am also interested in how some of these groups have turned to art as a means of raising awareness and coming to terms with what happened.

Research interests

  • Child removal
  • Motherhood
  • Oral history
  • Activism
  • Trauma
  • Art therapy


  • MLitt Spanish
  • BA(Hons) Modern Languages (French & Spanish)