She completed her Doctorate at the European University Institute in Florence in 1992. She is the author of many books, including: Quando o rico se faz pobre: Misericórdias, caridade e poder no império português, 1500-1800 (Lisbon, CNCDP, 1997), and As Misericórdias Portuguesas de D. Manuel I a Pombal (Lisbon, Livros Horizonte, 2001).
Between 1998 and 2003 she worked as a researcher at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University in the United States. She currently teaches at the University of the Minho, where she is an Associate Professor. She also works as an Associate Researcher at the Lisbon Institute of Social Sciences. She is currently working on material culture in Portuguese society, with special focus on the period between the second half of the 15th century and the start of the Dynastic Union.