The Comité mondial des femmes contre la guerre et le fascisme: Anti-Fascist, Feminist, and Communist Activism in the 1930s

Calver, Jasmine (2019) The Comité mondial des femmes contre la guerre et le fascisme: Anti-Fascist, Feminist, and Communist Activism in the 1930s. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This thesis examines the Comité mondial des femmes contre la guerre et le fascisme (CMF), a communist front organisation which operated from 1934 until 1940, with particular focus on how different forms of activism (feminist, communist, and anti-fascist) were represented in its work. It argues that the CMF was an example of an organisation based on Popular Front ideals of socialist unity before it became the official policy of the Comintern, which facilitated the organisation of women from across the left side of the political spectrum against the growing threat fascism and war. The group was primarily intended to mount an organised female resistance to fascism, as well as serving as a means of creating propaganda aimed at non-communist women in the west.
The first chapter of this thesis discusses early examples of Popular Front activism in response to the rise of the Nazi party from which the CMF drew inspiration to understand the origins of the movement, particularly the Amsterdam-Pleyel movement. The second chapter examines the backgrounds of four prominent women in the committee to understand its orientation: Bernadette Cattanéo, Gabrielle Duchêne, Maria Rabaté and Charlotte Haldane. The third chapter covers the proceedings of CMF congresses in the context of other international women’s congresses of the interwar period, emphasising these as the site of complex activist meetings, particularly through the diverse nature of the participants. The fourth chapter discusses the relationship between CMF women and Soviet women in terms of correspondence and political tourism in the Soviet Union. The fifth part of this thesis explores three major CMF campaigns around specific world events: the Spanish Civil War, the rise of Nazi fascism, and the Second Sino-Japanese War. The final chapter discusses how the CMF presented various issues relating to women in their journals, Woman To-Day and Femmes dans l’action mondiale.
The main goal of this thesis is to establish the CMF’s role as a Popular Front organisation before the concept was officially adopted by the Comintern. Because of its status as a front organisation, the committee was able to operate with a level of freedom to pursue these ideas of socialist unity. Also important is that this thesis places the CMF in the wider historiography of international women’s organisations; it argues that the CMF was unique in the history of these movements however, because of its open utilisation of communist, anti-fascist, anti-militarist and feminist principles in conjunction with its Popular Front character and relationship with the Comintern.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: women's activism, interwar period, popular front, Comintern, French history
Subjects: R100 French studies
V100 History by period
V200 History by area
V300 History by topic
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2020 11:16
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 19:51

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