The first C19 session of this year will be James Yeoman (Uni of Sheffield) talking about memoir and autobiography in the Spanish anarchist movement. The session will take place in the Minvera Building, MB1019 at 4pm this Wednesday (3rd Oct). We hope to see you there.

Please find James’ abstract and biography below.

Urales Anarchist Autobiographies

Writing the Revolutionary Self: Memoir and Autobiography in the Spanish Anarchist Movement


This paper will discuss life-writing within the Spanish anarchist movement. It focuses the creation of identity through the creation of autobiographies and memoirs, texts in which memory interacts with the multiple, shifting discourses of both the movement, and of Spanish culture more broadly. As such it draws upon historical works on selfhood and ‘ego-documents’ (e.g. Summerfield, 1998; Voglis, 2002; Hellbeck, 2006) drawing comparisons with different genres (such as oral history, diaries and letters) and across different international contexts. Key questions to be discussed include:

  • What this material can and cannot tell us
  • How anarchist autobiographical writing changed and developed over the shifting political and social contexts of turn-of-the-century Spain
  • How authors related anarchist ideology to their experiences through their writing, in areas such as gender, and the relationship between the individual and collective


This paper will focus on one example of anarchist life-writing in particular: volume I of Mi Vida (3 vols., 1929-1932), the autobiography of the eminent publisher and theorist Federico Urales (1864-1942). Urales’ work provides an engaging and colourful example of how childhood, self-realisation, success and failure were framed within a discourse of a ‘good anarchist life’, set in the context of late nineteenth-century Spain, in which the individual and ideological merged to form an ethical, exemplary self-narrative.



Biography: James Michael Yeoman (University of Sheffield)


James is a teaching associate in Modern European History at the University of Sheffield. His work has examined the formation of the anarchist movement in Spain, with a particular focus on the role of print culture in the development of anarchist ideology and practice. His current research and most recent publications have emphasised transnational connections and exchanges between radical movements across Europe and Latin America. In 2016 James guest-edited a special edition of International Journal of Iberian Studies (29:3) with Dr Danny Evans (University of Leeds), which includes his article ‘Salud y Anarquía desde Dowlais,’ which presents a case study of Spanish anarchist migration to South Wales in the early twentieth century. He has also contributed a chapter on the Spanish Civil War for the recently-published Palgrave Handbook of Anarchism (2018).