Sabrina Grohsebner
ifk Junior Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. October 2020 bis 30. June 2021

Fellow Abroad

01. October 2021 bis 30. June 2022

09/21 - 12/21: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

01/22 - 04/22: University of California, Berkeley, US

05/22 - 08/22: Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spanien



Conflicted Hands: Representations of Midwives between Body and Culture in Early Modern Spain


The functions of midwives in the Spanish Golden Age span medical, social, ceremonial, and moral dimensions and are characterized by the close interweaving of aspects of body and society. Proceeding from the cultural-anthropological understanding that the hands that assist birth lay the ground for human cooperation and sociability, the project pursues a representational investigation of the midwife’s hands and the narratives they provide. Specifically, the moment of scientific swerve that the Siglo de Oro marks renders relevant the reconceptualization of human existence, both biological and cultural, that influences female professionalization in the birthing room. The comadre’s practice is impacted by her movement along the thin lines separating distinct dichotomies, such as glory and blame, sacralization and demonization, authority and submission, or confidentiality and publicity. How are societal discourses that evolved around the midwife and her profession in early modern Spain represented in different media?


Sabrina Grohsebner completed her M.A. in Romance Studies, with a special emphasis on Cultural and Media Studies, in Vienna in 2019. Her thesis centered on the visual representation of Spanish society in Francisco de Goya’s pictorial works. Her deep interest in the medial shaping of human coexistence found fertile ground in her current research, which investigates sociocultural discourses around midwives. After several years working in the Romance Studies library in Vienna, she is a collaborator on the FWF-funded research project The Interpretation of Childbirth in Early Modern Spain.

14 December 2020
  • Lecture
Sabrina Grohsebner

IFK_LIVE: Manos áureas. Die Hände der Hebamme als Schlüssel zu menschlicher Soziabilität im Spanien des Goldenen Zeitalters

Das Mitwirken von helfenden Händen am Geburtsprozess legt seit jeher das Fundament für menschliche Zusammenarbeit und Geselligkeit. Die Arbeit der Hebamme im Spanien des Siglo de Oro kann somit als gemeinschaftsstiftende und kulturprägende Tätigkeit verstanden werden. Diese wird jedoch durch ihren epochenspezifischen Grenzgang zwischen Leben und Tod, privater und öffentlicher Sphäre sowie Submission und Autorität geprägt. Wann mündet Kooperation in Konfrontation?