Office: MMC, DM 387-A
Ph.D., University of New Mexico, 1995
I revisit the past as a historian raised by those whose historical experiences were silenced. Gender relations reveal a textured history that runs through the formal institutions of church, political parties, the economy, and schools. Catholicism intrigues me; both an empowering and debilitating force in women’s lives it turned into a political axiom in the wake of the Cold War. National Catholicism solidified Franco’s personal power and open the door in 1953 to international rehabilitation with the United States and the Vatican endorsements. I studied right-wing Catholic women’s groups and have come away with much respect for the resiliency and resourcefulness in carving niches of power. I explored this resourcefulness in my first book True Catholic Womanhood. Gender Ideology in Franco’s Spain published first in 2000 by Northern Illinois University Press and issued in paperback in 2008.
Likewise, gender relations permeate the informal institutions of the media, movies, and advertisements. This was the subject of my second book The Seduction of Modern Spain. The Female Body and the Francoist Body Politic, (2010). In this study I argued that the changing identity of women, shaped by the modernizing forces of an emerging consumerist economy and a growing popular culture, eroded the official power of the state and church and eased the transition from patriarchal autarchy to a representational democracy. In my analysis women’s bodies are understood as both the site of oppression from dictatorial power and of resistance and liberation.
Currently, I am writing a book tentatively entitled Things Visible And Invisible: Life Narratives in Late Francoism. This is an oral history project based on a collection of interviews from the late 1980s to 2010s from ordinary women (and some men) who fought in the student movement at the University of Granada against Franco and working-class women who exercised acts of daily resistance and empowerment against a totalitarian regime. This is, therefore, implicitly a feminist analysis of the transition of the Francoist regime to democracy as a result of the modernization in 1960s and 1970s wrought by urbanization and consumerism, emigration and tourism.
While I am an historian, my work crosses over into the fields of cultural, memory, and gender’s studies. Although my research focuses on Spanish recent history, it has much to say for those scholars interested in gender dynamics in the Latin American context, particularly for the development of dictatorial gender policies in the Southern Cone. Furthermore, the examination of Spanish gender dynamics under Franco Spain is relevant to other Western societies that adopted a consumerist economy and media saturated (some might say obsessed) culture after WWII in Western Europe and the US.
Most recently, I directed The Spanish and Mediterranean Studies Program from 2013-2017 to raise awareness in the Miami community at large of the high-quality student and faculty bodies we have at FIU, a first-rate Hispanic serving institution.
The Spanish and Mediterranean Program intellectually focuses on the Mediterranean basin not just as a geopolitical space, but as a conceptual one. The sea offers us the opportunity to shift the emphasis from nationalist borders to bridging civilizations and peoples. Oceans and seas are the connectors, the spaces of collective and individual discovery and reinvention.
The Iberian Peninsula is the ancestral frontier of Europe the bridge between the Mediterranean through the Atlantic to the Caribbean— and Florida mirrors it as the new Peninsula into the Caribbean, named by intellectuals like José Lezama Lima the “other” Mediterranean.
I enjoy teaching both upper and lower division undergraduate classes as well as graduate seminars. Some of my courses include:
- History of Emotions
- Water Cartographies: Historicizing the Seas
- Mediterranean Dictatorships
- Memory and Historical Reconciliation
- History of Modern Spain
- The Gendered History of the Body
- The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939
- Spain’s Transition to Democracy
- History of Women in Modern Spain
- Nationalism, Gender, and Sexuality under Totalitarian Regimes
- Religion, Sexuality and Gender Roles Western Culture