Forgotten Spanish Women Authors : Las Sinsombrero and Switzerland

Las Sinsombrero and Switzerland is a Swiss cultural project conceived by the Research centre for European Philological Tradition (, that seeks to recover the memory of those Spanish women writers, artists, activists and philosophers of the generation of 1927 known as Las Sinsombrero (Women Without Hats) during their exile in Switzerland.

It's been more than 40 years since the publication of the monumental study El Exilio español de 1939, by José Luis Abellán. In these forty years there has been a slow reevaluation of the literary reputation that many Spanish male authors gained in exile. But so far no one has been concerned with analysing the role played by the exiled women writers, artists, activists and philosophers. The research intends to focus also on the host land, Switzerland, where these women found the serenity that allowed them to be highly productive. A brief comparison of their Swiss trajectories seems an appropriate way to introduce Rosa Chacel, Ruth Velázquez, María Zambrano, Clara Campoamor, Mercé Rodoreda (who belonged to the Catalan Sabadell Group) to a wider public, and it also serves to raise a few questions heretofore about the influence of gender and nationality on the exile experience.

Sinsombrero? Who were they?

Las Sinsombrero were the female half of a prolific group of Spanish intellectuals in the 1920s and 1930s – a group that included Federico García Lorca, Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí.

Sadly, the contributions of these female avant-garde poets, painters and philosophers have been hit by a damnatio memoriae and they have largely been forgotten. Only very recently, especially thanks to the activity of Tània Balló, Producer, Director and Writer for TVE (who has realised a cross-media project, including a so-called docufilm) Spain has rediscovered these female artists. They are all totally absent from the textbooks of the time. They seem never to have existed. With the reestablishment of democracy, the names of their male colleagues – members of the Silver Age – were revived and praised, whereas those of these women remained in oblivion and they lost their rightful place in the official account of such an important period of European history.What is very interesting and really little known is that most of these women created their most important works in exile.Switzerland has always been a safe haven for many intellectuals around the world and the years of Francoism are no exception. More than forty years after Franco’s death, the “granddaughter” generation is working to reinsert into the history of Spain these women writers and artists, whose contributions have largely been forgotten. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 forced Las Sinsombrero to disperse into exile. The Franco dictatorship (1936-1975) silenced their voices and consciously removed them from Spanish historical memory. At a time as complex as the present, we are convinced that the task of intellectuals is to keep the historical memory alive. Through this project, we want : 1) to help the international scientific community rebuild the years of the Swiss exile of these four women artists. 2) to publish, with the help of the heirs, texts, graphic works and memoirs that would otherwise remain forever confined to family archives. 3) Reconstructing Switzerland's role as a host country. 4) Through our project we also want to understand the extent of the indefatigable struggle of the Sinsombrero and what legacy they have left to generations of women thinkers and artists in the cultural history of both Spain and Switzerland.

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