Centre for Mexican Studies - Doctoral Theses

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    Comparative indigeneities in contemporary Latin America: an analysis of ethnopolitics in Mexico and Bolivia
    (University College Cork, 2020) Warfield, Cian; Finnegan, Nuala
    This thesis engages in a comparative analysis of two key ethnopolitical case studies drawn from Bolivia and Mexico. The intention is to critically evaluate the politically diverse ways in which Indigenous groups respond to the challenge of coloniality as they seek to restore their ethnic rights. The 2011 TIPNIS conflict between President Evo Morales (2006-2019) and lowland Indigenous communities reveals the difficulties faced by Bolivia’s former Indigenous president who struggled to find equilibrium between ethnic rights and national economic development. While Morales himself claimed to represent the interests of all Bolivian ethnic groups, the TIPNIS conflict showed that a policy of neoextractivism in combination with territorial development intersected with the struggle for ethnoterritoriality to reproduce scenes of chaos, conflict and socio-territorial change which sometimes distorted, at other times, enhanced his image as an Andean-decoloniser. Comparatively, in 2003, the Zapatista social justice movement bypassed Mexican state relations in order to satisfy their search for ethnoterritoriality. While the Zapatistas struggled in the midst of this pursuit against a global capitalist framework, which they claim, masquerades as international free-trade alliances and foreign corporatism, the rebels have become an important ethnopolitical model of resistance in the context of a neoliberal Mexico. Conceptually framed around notions of place and space, this interdisciplinary study uses a broad range of theoretical approaches (decolonial theory, discourse theory, utopia studies) which facilitates an innovative reading of key speeches, declarations, government policy documents, communiqués and locally-sourced journalistic material and relies on a range of scholarship drawn from cultural studies, political science, anthropology and philosophy. Through its comparative design, this thesis not only generates fresh and original perspectives on contemporary ethnopolitical activity between Mexico and Bolivia but also reveals the challenges, opportunities, similarities and differences which shape diverse forms of ethnopolitcal resistance across the region today.
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    Through the looking-glass: the interartistic practice of Remedios Varo
    (University College Cork, 2019) Albaladejo Garcia, Nadia; Finnegan, Nuala; Buffery, Helena; Irish Research Council
    This thesis sets out to map and explore the interartistic practice and relations developed in the creative production of twentieth-century woman artist and writer, Remedios Varo i Uranga (Anglès, Girona 1908 - Mexico City, 1963), who achieved significant international recognition for one aspect of her work: her paintings. I explore and analyse key examples of her interartistic practice throughout her career. These include: Varo’s literary experiments, co-creating the surrealist play El santo cuerpo grasoso with Leonora Carrington; the commercial commissions she carried out for Bayer which is here read in relation to their context of publication; her best-known sculptural work, Homo rodans, examined in relation to the hybrid text which accompanied it and the various traces of its performative composition; and her most famous ‘treatise’ on interartistic practice, the painting La creación de las aves, which is read alongside a selection of her dream narratives. These works are primarily analysed using an interdisciplinary framework that includes cultural and literary studies, theatre and performance studies as well as anthropology and philosophy. Overall, the analysis demonstrates that the extant critical insistence on translating her into a single dominant frame or worldview, even while recognising the importance of her diasporic mobility, ultimately reduces the liminal, performative and often playful nature of her work and downplays her capacity to negotiate and move between different languages, cultures, media and disciplines.
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    Otras miradas: representations of gender violence in contemporary Mexican visual culture (2001-2011)
    (University College Cork, 2019) Clifford, Emer; Finnegan, Nuala; Irish Association for Mexican Studies; Mexican Government
    This doctoral thesis presents a critical analysis of visual responses to gender-based violence in contemporary Mexican culture, with the aim of identifying how new forms of narrative can engender ‘ethical visibilización’ of gender-based violence, through instigating ‘otras miradas’, or other ways and modes of spectating and witnessing violence. Central to this investigation are three individual artworks by three Mexican artists, created at different intervals over a particularly violent ten year period (2001-2011). They are as follows: Maryse Sistach’s neorealist auteur film, Perfume de violetas: nadie te ve (2001); Rodrigo Cruz’s multimedia project, Violencia en contra de las mujeres (2006); and Yamina del Real’s tableau photography exhibition, “El cuerpo deshabitado... o En busca del cuerpo perdido” (2011). This thesis subsequently examines how the visual narratives created by these contemporary artists, counter dominant sensationalistic and hyper-violent representations of gender violence, which otherwise exploit victims and commodify violence. Drawing on Ann E Kaplan’s theory of trauma culture, as well as insights from across a broad range of disciplines, it will be argued how each visual artist independently fashions an active audience through their respective processes of ethical or anti-Othering and incitement of intellectual spectatorship. In so doing, they facilitate a re-imagining, and re-presentation of gender violence in Mexican visual culture, which ultimately forms a wider political narrative of ‘ethical visibilización’ of the processes and consequences of gender violence.