Vanesa’s research interests include art and visual culture in Spain and Latin America, transatlantic material cultures, urban modernities, transnationalism, and women’s studies. She has held posts at several international institutions. Her doctoral research received the Outstanding Dissertation Prize from UNED, Madrid, and Best Dissertation Award 2013-2016, Honorable Mention from the Association of Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies (ASPHS). She has been a Junior Research Fellow at the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture, University of Westminster and a visiting scholar at University of Miami and University of Zurich. Vanesa has delivered research papers and chaired conference sessions at the College Association of Art and the European Association for Urban History, amongst others.
Ephemera Across Borders (1870-1920)
This long-term project studies collections of printed images and how women looked at, handled, and interacted with artefacts. The project focuses on exchanges between Spain and Latin America with the aim of examining the worldwide trend of image exchange at the turn of the century. The project will advance our knowledge of the ways in which visual artefacts operated in the spaces of everyday life, and, most importantly, it will explore the implications of mass culture entering the private sphere and the global implications of images travelling across continents.
Madrid on the Move: Feeling modern and visually aware in the nineteenth century. Manchester University Press, February 2021
This full-length monograph explores illustrated print culture the urban experience in nineteenth-century Spain. It provides a fresh account of modernity by looking beyond its canonical texts, artworks, and locations and exploring what being modern meant to people in their daily lives. Rather than shifting the loci of modernity from Paris or London to Madrid, this book decentres the concept and explains the modern experience as part of a more fluid, global phenomenon. Meanings of the modern were not only dictated by linguistic authorities and urban technocrats; they were discussed, lived, and constructed on a daily basis. Cultural actors and audiences displayed an acute awareness of what being modern entailed and explored the links between the local and the global, two concepts and contexts that were being conceived and perceived as inseparable. This project has been supported by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and the Association of Print Scholars.
Selected past research
“Sobre ruedas: El patinaje en la cultura visual de Madrid del siglo XIX.” In Arte, ciudad y culturas nobiliarias en España, ed. by L. Sazatornil and A. Urquízar. Madrid: CSIC, 2019
This publication examines the rise and fall of the trend of roller skating in modern Spain. Skating became fashionable across Europe in the nineteenth century. The opening of Madrid’s first skating rinks coincided with developments in technology and the creation of a global industry of sport and leisure. This chapter focuses two key issues: First, it examines how the enduring relationship between sport, leisure, consumption and fashion emerged and was shaped through roller skating. Second, it explores the ways in which different social classes accessed the sport and how promoters instrumentalized the presence of the aristocracy and upper classes to promote skating rinks geared at an aspiring bourgeoise. This publication was part of a collaborative interuniversity research group funded by Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.
“A Patchwork of Effects: Notions of Walking, Sociability, and the Flâneur in Late Nineteenth-Century Madrid.” In The Flâneur Abroad: International and Historical Perspectives, edited by R. Wrigley. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015. 142-165.
This essay examines the flâneur, a well-known urban archetype associated to cultural modernity. Discussions about the flâneur and his qualities as an aloof and observant stroller emerged in public discourse in Spain. Writers, social chroniclers and artists questioned the difference between flânerie and local practices that already existed in Spain, such as the leisurely stroll. This chapter examines the way in which urban chroniclers continuously redefined the meanings of cosmopolitan and local identity.
“On and off the Tram: Contemporary Types and Customs in Madrid’s Illustrated and Comical Press (1874-1898).” In Visual Typologies from the Early Modern to the Contemporary: Local Contexts and Global Practices, edited by L. Klich and T. Zanardi. New York and Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2018. 60-73.
This chapter discusses the literary and artistic genre of costumbrismo within the context of the urbanization and public transport. The first trams began to operate in Madrid in the 1870s and 80s as part of larger projects of urbanization. The tram not only altered how people experienced space and time but also shaped notions of privacy and sociability. Artists and writers drew on the well-known genre of costumbrismo to reinvent its visual language and address pressing issues regarding gender roles, modernization and public space.
“De paseo: tracing women’s steps in Madrid's late nineteenth-century illustrated press.” In Women, Femininity and Public Space in European Visual Culture, 1789-1914, edited by T. Balducci and H. B. Jensen. Farnam, UK and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014. 167-187
This chapter examines ideas of femininity and representations of women in public space in the Spain. Women of different social classes were represented in the illustrated press in a variety of social settings and public spaces, from attending mass to strolling and riding public transport. This chapter analyzes the itineraries middle-class women followed within the city and the codes of conduct they adopted in public in order navigate the city streets without jeopardizing their respectability.