Research spotlight: Dr Alba Martínez

Dr Martínez joins the School of History as Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, 2023-25. Here she tells us a little more about her research.

What is your research background?

I did my PhD (at the University of Granada and the University of Paris 8) on the experiences and identities of Spanish women who took refuge in France after the Spanish Civil War (1939-1978).

I was particularly interested in the everyday strategies that women developed to cope with exile in their institutional, political and family contexts.

To that end I worked with a large corpus of sources, mainly administrative, oral and the so-called “writings of the self” (diaries, memoirs and correspondence).

What are your research plans while you are here at Leeds?

I will focus on British women who were involved in refugee relief campaigns in Europe (1930s/1940s).

There’s a great Leeds connection here in the figure of Esther Simpson, who devoted much of her life to supporting international scholars who were refugees from totalitarian regimes.

Read more about Esther Simpson in this article on the Leeds University Library website. The University of Leeds even has a building named after her!

My project will address three main questions:

  • What social and political pathways led British women to become involved in humanitarianism toward refugees?
  • Which transnational networks did they create and were they part of?
  • What was the transformative impact of their actions and rhetoric?

I will be working with sources deposited in archives of the UK, Spain, France, Switzerland and the USA.

What else are you looking forward to during your fellowship?

I am very much looking forward to learning from the great scholars who are part of the School of History and other interdisciplinary centres at the university.

I will also have the opportunity to teach, which will help me to enrich the teaching techniques I have already acquired in Spain and France.

In addition, I will work to disseminate the results of my research outside academia, strengthening the links with civil society.

Read more about Dr Martínez on her staff profile page.