An international colloquium on women’s lives in modern Spain was held in Barcelona between 5 and 7 October, both at the Facultat de Geografia i Història of the Universitat de Barcelona and the Museu del Disseny. It was organised by the University of Barcelona and the Associació per a l’Estudi del Moble (Association for the Study of Furniture) as part of the R+D Project ‘Maneras de vivir en la España moderna: Condiciones materiales y formas culturales de lo cotidiano’ (‘Ways of living in modern Spain: Material conditions and cultural forms in the daily life’). This event brought together historians from several Spanish and Italian universities who approached the subject from different perspectives and disciplines.
Gender, similarly to social status and economy, was an essential factor in the ways of life in the modern period and in the definition of spaces. It was particularly interesting that the works presented at this Colloquium addressed women in general and not only noblewomen, aristocrats and high-class women. Female confraternities, women in rural environments, convents, and women in domestic settings such as the kitchen and the bedroom were under consideration. The attention paid to several vestiges of the material culture of the period, as to jewellery, ceramics, books and pieces of furniture, was remarkable. The Colloquium included a visit to the Museu del Disseny (Design Museum) in Barcelona.
This Colloquium made clear that it is necessary to nuance the traditional gendering of space through the traditional dichotomy between public and private. In the modern period, women’s activities were not totally confined to domestic settings, as women also acted in the public sphere, even though their activities are less obvious in historical records than those of men, and special methodologies and research perspectives are required to make women’s lives more visible. [Ascensión Mazuela-Anguita]