Research - Prof. dr. E. Helena Houvenaghel

Exile & Migration and Myth & History Rewriting

Fenix: Network for Research on Female Exiles and Refugees

Houvenaghel created the Fenix Network for Research on Exiles and Female Refugees (fenix.sites.uu.nl). It brings together 12 research partners, who merge Gender, Literature, History and Art History with an interest in exiles and female refugees. The partners are research centers from universities in France (Avignon, Lille, Paris), Germany (Bonn, Passau), Spain (Barcelona, Granada, Madrid, Zaragoza), Sweden (Uppsala) the UK (Birmingham), and the US (North Carolina).

As a transnational research network, Fenix brings into contact researchers on women refugees who fled from their countries of origin during the 20th century. Today’s Refugee Studies rarely address historical matters, yet ideas about forced migration have long roots in Western history. Europe’s 20th century is especially characterized by massive refugee crises. Women refugees fulfill an important role in both the processes of integration in the host country and the preservation of the culture and language of the country of origin. However, female testimonies on adaptation and identity development are less foregrounded, which means that the refugee experience is generally determined by a male perspective. This network aims to connect researchers who adopt a gendered focus on the reception and integration of refugees this last century. With the objective of surpassing language barriers and national boundaries, the network brings together the specialized knowledge that researchers have of the different refugee cases and contributes to the shared exploration of these insights.

The basis for the Fenix Network for Research on Female Refugees was laid during the international congress Spanish Women in Mexican Exile: a transgenerational perspective, which I organised with the intention to give more visibility to the experiences of Spanish women exiles of the first and second generation in Mexico. For more information, see Mexico.
The findings of this congress are published in the volume Spanish women writers in Exile in Mexico/ Escritoras españolas en el exilio mexicano (2016, Porrúa) As a result of this same congress, Houvenaghel coordinated the Special Issue Writing in Nepantla: Angelina Muñiz-Huberman, daughter of the Spanish Exile/ Escribir en Nepantla: la prosa sin fronteras de Angelina Muñiz, hija del exilio republicano was published in the journal Anales de Literatura Hispanoamericana (vol. 44, 2015).

The First International Congress of the Fenix Network for Research on Female Refugees, Spanish Exile and Italian Immigration in Argentina (1930-1976): Gender, Politics, and Culture, took place in Dec. 2018. By reflecting on women refugees’ and migrants’ experiences in Argentina, the Fenix Network aimed during this first congress at gendering the image of Spanish exile and Italian migration in Argentina. The results of this first congress are published as a series of 4 Special Issues in the Journal Romance Studies (2020-2021, 38.2, 38.3, 38.4 and 39.1). For more information, see Argentina.

Gender (part 1)
Gender (part 2)
Politics & Culture
Theatre & TV Drama

The second Fenix-congress that Houvenaghel organized (December 2019) focused on Spanish women refugees’ transit in France in the 1930’s-‘40s. The concepts of Agency and Transnationalism served as axes around which revolved the reflection that resulted in the Special Issue Spanish refugee women in transit in France: Agency and Transnationalism (Nov 2020, International Open Access Journal Impossibilia, University of Granada, Fenix-Partner Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies). For more information, see Transit.
Spanish refugee women in transit in France

The third Fenix encounter (2020) reflects on the ethics of exile literature and gives a central place to the concept of “nonconformism”. As a case study, this meeting focuses on the transgression of the established norms in second generation exile Angelina Muñiz Huberman’s oeuvre. The results of this encounter are published in the Dossier Angelina Muñiz Huberman: A nonconformist voice, in the Journal INTI Revista de Literatura Hispánica y Transatlántica, N° 93-94, Spring-Autumn 2021)
Angelina Muñiz Huberman: A nonconformist voice

The fourth Fenix encounter (2021), Networks and Routes of Spanish women in Argentinian exile/ Redes y Rutas de mujeres españolas en el exilio argentino (1939-1975), puts the spotlight on the networking strategies elaborated by Spanish women exiles in Argentina. The participating Fenix-members analyze the cross-border contacts, networks, and routes developed by the first generation of Spanish women exiles in Argentinia. The results of this fourth Fenix encounter are published in the journal Anales de Literatura Hispanoamericana (2022). For more information, see Argentina.
Anales de Literatura Hispanoamericana

The fifth Fenix encounter (2021), Teresa of Avila: Exploring the diverse paths of a polysemic model of femininity (1936-1986)/ Teresa de Avila: Rutas de un modelo polisémico de feminidad (1936-1986), explores the varied influences exerted by Teresa of Avila, during the Franco period and the transition, on Spanish women artists and intellectuals, both in Spain and in exile. The participating Fenix-members study Teresa de Avila’s ambivalent impact on female Spanish artists and thus contribute to the historicization of her significance as a spiritual guide for women. The outcome of this encounter is published in the Hispanic Research Journal (2022).
Hispanic Research Journal