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Connecting People, Inventing Communities: Faustina Sáez de Melgar's Magazine La Violeta (Madrid, 1862-1866) between National(ist) Ideologies and International Allegiances

by Henriette Partzsch

Faustina Sáez de Melgar was one of the leading women writers in the Spain of Queen Isabel II. Extremely well-connected to the neo-Catholic establishment of her day, she worked on consolidating her position by venturing on an ambitious enterprise, the publication of La Violeta. This cultural magazine, mostly directed at a female public but also counting on and writing for male readers, appeared from the end of 1862 until the end of 1866; it was distributed throughout Spain - with some evidence of subscriptions overseas - and it was even declared an official textbook for primary schools. However, the commitment of the magazine and its directora propietaria was far more complex and indeed surprising than this label might suggest.

By exploring the different (and sometimes dissonant) voices brought together in La Violeta and its commitment to abolitionism, I will discuss how this enterprise confronted the delicate task of moving between international allegiances and nationalistic as well as domestic ideologies in the highly volatile times leading up to the revolution of 1868. In the process, it created a network with local, national and international dimensions and a dynamics of its own, which did not only regularly clash with the very tangible limitations of the existing national infrastructure but also, in the end, with the gendered and class limitations to political commitment outside the pages of a magazine.

AsK, September 2012

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