In Search of Hildegart: Tracking a Body and a Biography over a Century

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Hildegart Rodríguez Carballeira (1914–33), known principally by her first name, was a Spanish propagandist and sex reformer who died violently at nineteen. Many narratives of her life are rooted in the desire to understand the circumstances of her death. This article tracks the genesis and persistence of a biographical narrative centred upon stories about Hildegart’s eugenic birth and death that marginalizes her in her own life story. This article explores how women’s life writing, popular and academic, has reassessed this narrative, and reflects upon the problems feminist historians and biographers face when approaching the ‘Hildegart of myth’ and the ‘Hildegart of the archive’. Rather than debunking myths about Hildegart, or rescuing her from stories
about her life, I will explore those stories and analyse their function and demonstrate that the same stories that have been interpreted as objectifying and dehumanizing Hildegart, assisted her, in life, to garner reputation and transgress the boundaries of decency for young women in early twentieth-century Spain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-270
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Iberian and Latin American Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Hildegart
  • Second Republic
  • Spain
  • biography
  • eugenics
  • life writing


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