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Erika Teichert

Erika Teichert

Biography

I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2014 I graduated with a First Class BA (Hons) degree in History of Art from University College London (UCL), where I received the Dean’s List Award. I joined the Centre of Latin American Studies (CLAS) in 2016, supported by the Simón Bolívar Fund, and completed the MPhil in Latin American Studies with Distinction. I began my PhD at CLAS in 2017, which was funded by the Cambridge International Trust and Newnham College Scholarship. I was also the recipient of the Trinity-MCSC Honorary Scholarship.

PhD Research

ENVISIONING CITIZENSHIP: Photographic Practice and Human Rights Activism in Contemporary Argentina 

My thesis is a study of the visual culture of human rights movements in Argentina in the twenty-first century, looking specifically at the mobilisation of photography by activists. In each chapter, I cover different human rights organisations: collectives that respond to the country’s dictatorial past (Chapter One), the Malvinas war veterans’ organisations (Chapter Two), abortion and feminist activists (Chapter Three), HIV activists (Chapter Four), and citizens’ assemblies against the socio-environmental damages caused by open-pit mining (Chapter Five). I explore a variety of photographic genres that are relevant to the movements I study, ranging from fine arts photography to photojournalism and vernacular uses. While the thesis is highly interdisciplinary – navigating cultural studies, history of art, the anthropology of art, citizenship studies and human rights legal frameworks – I ground my analyses in theories of photography to examine how the medium serves the aims of activism. My project advances arguments about both the politics of human rights and about photography as activism. I depart from interpretations of photography as testimony to reveal its performative uses. I argue that, in the hands of activists, photography as activism constitutes a performative effort of imagining time. While acknowledging truth-telling and denunciation as part of the photographic mandate when mobilised for human rights activism, I posit that photography offers another crucial possibility: using the space enabled by photography to imagine and create a different reality. Through photography, activists encounter the present and re-visit the past to materialise the worlds of tomorrow. Through this line of analysis, I also depart from notions of victimhood often tied to a testimonial reading of photography. While recognising victimhood’s particular prevalence in Argentine political culture around human rights, I argue that the notion of citizenship is a more stable lens through which to study these photographic practices. Photography as activism is mobilised to give life to rights claims: not as testimony, but as a performative, relational practice where citizenship comes to be constituted as a political subjectivity. In turn, this local, embodied study of photography serves to foreground the importance of equally localised studies of human rights: despite its status as a global discourse on human dignity, the political currency of human rights frameworks is shaped by locality. Human rights are always re-imagined and re-contextualised through local histories and narratives of which the bodies of the activists are the protagonists. The ways in which activists frame and materialise rights claims in order to shape and produce citizenship act as a localised counterpoint to global human rights discourses and debates.  

Publications

  • ‘Lola Arias’ Campo minado/Minefield (2016): Exploring Dramatherapy in Documentary Theatre,’ Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 97(10): 1031–1046 (2020)
  • ‘Reciclajes: Materializando militancia en la ex-ESMA’ (Recycling: Materialising Militancy at the ExESMA), Teatro XXI, 36: 75-90 (2020)
    Article published as part of the special issue, ‘Relaciones intermediales e interdisciplinarias en la cultura argentina: teatro, cine, performance y ópera,’ coordinated by Ezequiel Lozano (Universidad de Buenos Aires-CONICET) and Lía Noguera (Universidad de Buenos Aires-Universidad Nacional de las Artes
  • 'The Politics of the Family: Psychoanalysis and Neoliberalism in Contemporary Argentine Documentary Cinema,’ Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, 29(2): 271-289 (2020)

Invited Reviews

"The Senses of Democracy: Perception, Politics and Culture in Latin America." Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 96.9: 995-96 (2019) 

Selected Conference Papers

  • "No se toca: Citizens Assemblies’ Photographic Practice against Neo-extractivism in Argentina", Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS) Annual Conference, April 2022. 
  • "Photography and HIV in Contemporary Argentina: A Case for 'Vulnerable' Academic Writing", SLAS Annual Conference, April 2020. 
  • "Pañuelazo: Visual Strategies of the Legal Abortion Campaign in Argentina", LASA Annual Conference, May 2019.
  • "Abortion and Human Rights in Argentina: a Visual Perspective", LSE-Essex-Cambridge Doctoral Triangle, May 2019. 
  • "Landscapes in Transition: Haunting Spaces at the exESMA in Buenos Aires", LASA Annual Conference, May 2018. 

Selected Organised Events

  • PhD Research Day on Latin American and the Caribbean. Postgraduate conference held at Cmabridge. 17th May 2019. 
  • Artivismo: The Place of Art and Politics in Latin America. Postgraduate conference held at Cambridge. 9th November 2018.

Teaching at Cambridge

  • SP13-Contemporary Latin American Culture (Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics); SP5-Latin American Culture (Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics), and History Paper 17/18-Vision and Representation in Contemporary Art (History of Art)
  • Undergraduate Dissertation Supervisor

Research Interests

  • Latin American contemporary art and photography
  • Intersections between photography/art and activism 
  • Photojournalism 
  • Photography theory
  • Ethics of photography

Supervisor: Dr Joanna Page
Emailept27@cam.ac.uk