Professor receives award for book about Barcelona’s food markets

A Marshall University faculty member has tied for the top award in a competition for first-time authors for her book examining Barcelona’s successful system of food markets.

The history honor society Phi Alpha Theta awarded Dr. Montserrat Miller its prestigious Best First Book award for “Feeding Barcelona, 1714-1975,” which was published earlier this year by the Louisiana State University Press.

Miller is a professor of history at Marshall, where she specializes in food markets, gender studies and modern Spain.

According to the publisher, the book is the first detailed account of the historical and social influences that create urban food markets.

The markets of Barcelona host thousands of customers daily, from tourists eager to sample fresh fruits and grilled seafood to neighborhood cooks in search of high-quality ingredients. While other countries experienced major shifts away from the public-market model in the twentieth century, Barcelona’s food markets remained fundamental to the city’s identity, economy, and culture. Miller’s book examines the causes behind the extraordinary vibrancy and tenacity of the Barcelonan market system.

Miller argues that recurrent revolutionary uprisings in Barcelona, beginning in the mid-18th century, forced ongoing collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure adequate and effective food distribution. Municipal support permitted small-scale food sellers in Barcelona to survive in a period more commonly characterized by increasing capitalization in food retail, while the importance of food markets to Barcelona’s social networks enhanced vendors’ ability to recognize and adapt to changing customer demands. In addition, a high number of stalls owned by women contributed both to the financial well-being of vendor families and to the sociability patterns that placed neighborhood food markets at the center of daily life in the city. The shared commitment of vendors, shoppers and government officials to a market model of food sales created the lasting and unique market system that persists in Barcelona to this day.

Miller is the recipient of several teaching awards at Marshall, including the College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Teacher Award (2008-09), Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia Professor of the Year (2007-08) and the Charles E. Hedrick Outstanding Faculty Award (2006-07).

For more information about her book, please visit