Dr. Morcillo sadly passed away in Spring 2020. We retain her Faculty bio as a tribute to our much-loved colleague.
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.
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.