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Wrongdoing in Spain, 1800-1936: Realities, Representations, Reactions


Nadia Oberto is a PhD candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Her research interests cover Peninsular Modern and Contemporary cultural, social and intellectual history in relation to the history of crime. She is currently working on the construction of the imaginary of the bandit from the late 18th century to the 20th century in popular and elite culture, with a special focus on the dynamic between patterns of criminality, imaginaries of transgression and popular and erudite responses.

Nadia Oberto has a degree in History (Class I), and Masters in ‘The Spanish Monarchy during the 16th and 18th centuries’, both from the University of Cantabria. She was awarded the Premio Extraordinario de Fin de Carrera and her Master´s dissertation received the mark of distinction. In 2010 she attended the sessions of the Seminario de Investigación de Historia Moderna, organized by the Grupo de Investigación de Historia Moderna of the University of Cantabria.

In recent years she worked on the theme of social conflict and cultural representation in relation to deviants through two microhistorical studies. She is particularly interested in the viewpoint of the groups on the margins of the social order, especially those ambiguous figures which receive different conceptualizations over time. A case-study carried out in the Master´s degree was on witchcraft and set in the late 18th century. This case was inserted in a multiethnical and colonial context of a hacienda in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. In it, she emphasized the conflictive relations among castes and gender in terms of the motifs behind the accusation of witchcraft. A further area of enquiry was on the symbolic aspects in which the conflict was developed and interpreted.

In her Master’s dissertation, she addressed rural banditry in Cantabria in the late 18th century and the first decades of the 19th century, based on criminal judicial procedures. She tackled a wide range of banditry activities, from petty theft, smuggling networks to highwaymen´s violent assaults in villages and trade routes. She gave focus to questions of representation by looking at how these criminal associations were justified or rejected in popular culture comparing this with the institutional conceptualization of crime.