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Geographies of Urban Female Labor and Nationhood in Spanish Culture, 1880–1975

Mar Soria

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 05/2020
Pages: 360
Subject: History
eBook ISBN: 9781496219954


Mar Soria presents an innovative cultural analysis of female workers in Spanish literature and films. Drawing from nation-building theories, the work of feminist geographers, and ideas about the construction of the marginal subject in society, Soria examines how working women were perceived as Other in Spain from 1880 to 1975.

By studying the representation of these marginalized individuals in a diverse array of cultural artifacts, Soria contends that urban women workers symbolized the desires and anxieties of a nation caught between traditional values and rapidly shifting socioeconomic forces. Specifically, the representation of urban female work became a mode of reinforcing and contesting dominant discourses of gender, class, space, and nationhood in critical moments after 1880, when social and economic upheavals resulted in fears of impending national instability. Through these cultural artifacts Spaniards wrestled with the unresolved contradictions in the gender and class ideologies used to construct and maintain the national imaginary.

​ Whether for reasons of inattention or disregard of issues surrounding class dynamics, nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spanish literary and cultural critics have assumed that working women played only a minimal role in the development of Spain as a modern nation. As a result, relatively few critics have investigated cultural narratives of female labor during this period. Soria demonstrates that without considering the role working women played in the construction and modernization of Spain, our understanding of Spanish culture and life at that time remains incomplete.    


Mar Soria is an assistant professor of Spanish at the University of Missouri.


"Highly significant and unique. . . . This study certainly will make an important contribution to the field. To date no similar studies have so exhaustively addressed how the working woman became a pivotal and contested figure during Spain's long and uneven path toward modernization."—Juli Highfill, author of Modernism and Its Merchandise: The Spanish Avant-Garde and Material Culture, 1920–1930

"This excellent book revitalizes readings of familiar authors such as Emilia Pardo Bazán and Carmen Martín Gaite through a new lens . . . and it introduces us to some lesser-known authors. . . . Thoroughly researched, theoretically sophisticated, and well argued, this book is an important contribution to our understanding of late nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spanish society and fiction."—Roberta Johnson, author of Major Concepts in Spanish Feminist Theory