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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Josefa Amar

b. 1749, Spain; d. 1833, location unknown

Josefa Amar y Borbón, tutored by the librarian at the royal court of Madrid, supplemented her formal education in Latin, French, and literature with additional studies in Greek, Italian, and English. Marrying in 1764, she and her husband moved to Aragon, where she translated scholarly works into Castilian. She became the first female member of the Sociedad Económica de Aragon in 1782. Economic societies were founded all over Spain during the Enlightenment period; they sponsored research in a variety of topics, including agriculture, industry, and economic theory. Amar translated an Italian book on agricultural techniques in 1784. She joined the campaign to open the Sociedad Económica de Madrid to women with her first feminist treatise, Discurso in defensa del talento de las mujeres (In Defense of the Talent of Women, 1786). Spain passed a law establishing a separate and subordinate women’s section within the society. Amar was an active member, though she protested the two-tier membership system, apparent in her essays supporting the moral education of women (1795, now lost). Her second major feminist work, Discurso sobre la educación física y moral de las mujeres (Discourse on the Physical and Moral Education of Women), was published in 1790.