Mercedes Arbaiza (Bilbao, 1963) earned her PhD in History from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) in 1994. She gained pre-doctoral experience as a researcher at the Department of Contemporary History (1990-1994) and post-doctoral experience at the Department of Economics and Business, Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) (1995-1996). She has been a tenured professor at the Department of Contemporary History, UPV/EHU, since February 1997.

Arbaiza co-ordinates and teaches the module, ‘Social History and Industrial Relations’ in the framework of the Industrial Relations Bachelor’s degree programme at the Faculty of Industrial Relations and Social Work. She also lectures on subjects relating to the construction of modern societies from a gender perspective in different Master’s degree programmes of the UPV/EHU:

  • Interuniversity MA in Contemporary History, ‘La aportación del género a la construcción de lo social’.
  • MA in Feminist and Gender Studies, ‘Feminismo, Sujeto y Modernidad’.
  • MA in Human Resource and Employment Management, ‘Políticas de Género y Empleo’.

From 1990 to 2000, Arbaiza formed part of the research team led by Manuel González Portilla in the fields of historical demography and social and economic history. Her PhD thesis was an attempt to review modernity in the Basque Country, from the perspective of social change in the private sphere (between the 16th and 20th centuries). In an effort to democratize the historical discipline, she addressed Basque modernity by understanding demographic practices and forms of family reproduction as an expression of an exceedingly paradoxical and by no means linear process.

Since 2001 to date, she has formed part of the ‘Modern Experience’ Consolidated Research Group (GIU), UPV/EHU. Research has revolved around the centrality of the cultural sphere as a producer of meaning of identity and human action, with special emphasis on the following: gender and labour economics; gender and work culture and class identity. The group’s most recent epistemological works are the culmination of this line of research, undertaking a deconstruction of the categories of political economy.

In a third phase, from 2013 onwards, Arbaiza has focused her attention on the study of emotions in the shaping of political subjects and social antagonism. This ongoing research is currently addressing emotions, subjectivities, and political cultures of modernity.

With Miren Llona, she co-supervised the PhD thesis of Eider de Dios, ‘Sirviente, empleada, trabajadora del hogar. Género, clase e identidad en el franquismo y la transición a través del servicio doméstico (1939-1985)’, which was awarded the 2017 Victoria Kent Prize.   

Since 2008, she has been in charge of the ‘Convenio de Colaboración de la Fundación Ramón Rubial con la Universidad del País Vasco para el desarrollo de estudios e investigaciones sobre la historia de la cultura y la memoria del movimiento socialista en el País Vasco’. This agreement has led to the creation of the Centro de Documentación del Socialismo Vasco [Basque Socialism Documentation Centre] (

She is a member of the advisory board of the Historia Contemporánea collection, published by the UPV/EHU Publication Service, and also member of the editorial board of the journal Historia Contemporánea.

Her publications can be consulted at:

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