Research Projects

For the past few years I have been involved in the study of the problematic relationship between history, literature and film in the Spanish/Spanish American context. I am particularly interested in how historical fiction and film deal with the past in moments of crisis as well under authoritarian regimes. My studies on revolutionary Cuban cinema and Francoist propaganda films examine the power of images to rewrite the past within new mythical narratives that legitimize the present while stifling dissent.

My recent interests have focused on exploring the cultural production of anarchists in the Hispanic world. I am currently working on two articles that deal with anarchist film production during the Spanish Revolution (the early years of the Spanish Civil War during which the means of production were socialized in parts of Spain).  The National Confederation of Workers (CNT), produced over 100 documentaries and feature length fiction films between 1936 and 1937. In “Un pequeño Hollywood proletario,” I survey film production during this period in which the film industry was collectivized and theatres functioned as political centers. Film directors envisioned the films to show daily realities and social conflicts behind and on the battle front. In a second project (“Anarchism and melodrama”), I study the paradoxical combination of sentimental romance and consciousness-raising in the CNT´s fiction films, which portray ruffian counter-culture, working class struggles, women’s emancipation and land collectivization during those years. I interpret this idiosyncratic synthesis of anarcho-syndicalist agitprop and recycled genre conventions as a short-lived (and often failed) attempt to fuse radical politics with mass entertainment. Archival research for these two essays was conducted at Madrid (Filmoteca Nacional), Valencia (IVAC), Salamanca (Centro Documental de la Memoria Histórica), New York (NYPL), Buenos Aires (CeDInCI), and Amsterdam (International Institute of Social History). 


The Spanish-Cuban-American War Goes to the Movies
The Spanish-Cuban-American War had a crucial importance for the three belligerent nations (Spain, Cuba, and the United States). For Spain it represented the end of its empire and the beginning of a debate on its identity. For Cuba it meant the end of its colonial period and the beginning of a neocolonial phase under the control of the new hegemonic power. For the United States it served as a rehearsal of it expansionist policy, which had its most aggressive moments in the aftermath of 1898. This book will analyze the representation of this war in world cinema. Special attention will be paid to the role of cinematic images and propaganda in the construction of national (Spanish/Cuban/US) identity.

In Search for El Dorado: Cinematic Reinventions of the Old World-New World Encounter
It will explore cinematic reconstructions of the age of "discovery," exploration, and conquest vis à vis fifteenth and sixteenth century sources (histories, chronicles, and relaciones), and in connection with the socio-historical context in which they were produced. In Search for El Dorado will discuss the problem of interpreting the Encounter during historical periods that foster radically different perspectives: the “imperial eye” of European colonial discourse and the historical revisionism of contemporary culture.


“La pasión, muerte y resurrección de José Martí, según Santiago Álvarez: «El primer delegado» (1975) y «Mi hermano Fidel» (1977).” [In progress].

“Entre el folletín sentimental y el erotismo de choque: Carne de fieras (1936), de Armand guerra.” [In progress].

“Anarquismo y melodrama: Barrios bajos (1939), de Pedro Puche.” [In progress].

“History and melodrama in Cuban prerevolutionary films: The Case of La rosa blanca (1953).” [In progress].

"El arpa y la sombra o la lipsonoteca postmodernista de Alejo Carpentier." [In progress].