Professor Thea Pitman
- Position: Professor of Latin American Studies
- Areas of expertise: Contemporary Latin American digital cultures and cultural production; Latin American literature, film and popular cultural forms; Indigenous cultures and cultural production.
- Email: T.Pitman@leeds.ac.uk
- Phone: +44(0)113 343 3521
- Location: 2.34 Michael Sadler Building
- Website: Arte Eletrônica Indígena | Twitter | ORCID
I joined Leeds in 1999 as a Lecturer in Latin American Studies after undergraduate and postgraduate study at Cambridge and UCL respectively, and a period of several years spent living and working in Mexico. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies in 2009 and to Professor of Latin American Studies in 2019. I have served as Taught Postgraduate Tutor for the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies (2011-14) and as Subject Leader for Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies (2015-18).
At Leeds, I am founder and current director of the Network for Hispanic and Lusophone Cultural Studies (HLAS), a cross-faculty initiative to support research in, and public engagement with, the field of Latin American cultural studies at Leeds. I am also a member of the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures (CWCDC), having previously served as director and instigator of its expansion to cover digital cultures; and I am a founding member of the new Centre for Endangered Languages, Cultures and Ecosystems (CELCE).
I am currently vice-president of the Society for Latin American Studies (2019-21); member of the Advisory Council of the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London; member of the Consejo de Colaboración para Estados Unidos, Canadá e Inglaterra, Romance Languages at the University of Georgia, USA; the University of Leeds representative for the Standing Conference of Latin American Studies in the UK; and I have previously served as membership secretary for the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland (2017-19). I am a member of the advisory boards of three different journals and one major research project, and am a member of the editorial board for three other journals and projects. I regularly review articles and manuscripts for a wide range of journals and publishers, both in the UK and internationally.
I would be delighted to receive enquiries from prospective research students or fellow researchers interested twentieth-century or contemporary Latin American cultural studies, particularly those whose interests lie in the following areas:
- Digital cultures and cultural production
- New media/digital/electronic art and literature
- Digital activism and new social movements
- Digital Humanities
- Environmental Humanities/ecocriticism
- Travel writing
- Women’s writing
- Film studies
- Popular cultures
- Grant Advisor – International (Semester 1)
- Currently on 'long/thin' sabbatical leave
My research focuses on the fast-expanding field of Latin American digital cultural production (net art, hypermedia literature, tactical media, and so on) as well as on digital activism and new social movements. It includes the first edited book on the subject to be published in English, Latin American Cyberculture and Cyberliterature (LUP, 2007), and the monograph Latin American Identity in Online Cultural Production (Routledge, 2013), both co-authored with Claire Taylor, and a steady stream of articles, chapters and short-form scholarship.
More recently I have developed my research to focus on Indigenous appropriations of new media technologies, using media archaeological methods and focusing on websites set up by Indigenous communities in Brazil and Colombia. With the support of a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant, I have also worked as both researcher and international curator for the AEI - Arte Eletrônica Indígena project, run by the Brazilian NGO Thydêwá. As part of my curatorial contribution to the project, I have organised three exhibitions: Digital Natives, Leeds International Festival, 2018; and special exhibits at the British Academy Summer Showcase 2019, and at the Ars Electronica Festival 2019. In conjunction with the Ars Electronica Festival we were also awarded an Honorable Mention in the European Commission-sponsored Science, Technology and Arts (ST+ARTS) Prize 2019, and were the only winning entry from the Global South, from a pool of over 2,000 entries. I have also produced a short video of my research findings entitled Occupy MAM (co-directed with Sebastián Gerlic). My current research plans involve further work on Indigenous new media arts in the Americas.
I have also recently collaborated both with Thydêwá and the Colombian communication-action initiative Pueblos en Camino, as well as colleagues at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and the Universidad Autónoma de Occidente, Cali, on an AHRC/GCRF-funded Research Network that I led, entitled “Sumak Kawsay and the Sustainable Development Agenda: Critical Debates and Creative Responses from a Latin American Indigenous Perspective” (2018-19). This project explored the intersection between Indigenous understandings of “good living” and questions of sustainability in Brazil and Colombia. Preliminary findings have been published in two dossiers in the journals Revista Periferias and Lugar Comum.
My research career started with work on Mexican literature, especially travel writing. My first monograph, Mexican Travel Writing (Lang, 2008) focused on the development of a tradition of travel writing penned by Mexicans travelling within their own country during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I have also published on the subject of Chicana/o cultural production, Latin American women’s writing and South-South dialogues. Some of those topics are the subject of two double special issues of journals that I edited: ‘Latin American Women Writers, Then and Now’, Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies (2008), and ‘New Transatlanticisms’, Journal of Transatlantic Studies (2009).<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>
- Fellow, Higher Education Academy
- Post-Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (University of Leeds)
- PhD Latin American Studies (University College London): thesis on Mexican travel writing
- MA Hispanic Studies (University of London)
- BA Modern and Medieval Languages - French and Spanish (University of Cambridge)
- Society for Latin American Studies
- Latin American Studies Association
- Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland
- Women in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
- Modern Humanities Research Association
- Red de Literatura Electrónica Latinoamericana
- Association of Internet Researchers
- European Association for Digital Humanities
- Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations
- Electronic Literature Organization
I teach Latin American cultural studies at all levels of the undergraduate curriculum, including a research-led final year module entitled ‘New Media in Latin America’. I also contribute to a wide range of cross-school modules at undergraduate and taught postgraduate level, especially the MA in Professional Language and Intercultural Studies, for which I was Programme Manager for many years. I supervise final year projects in the field of my expertise for Level 3 students on all programmes involving Spanish or Portuguese, as well as those taking the BA Liberal Arts.
To date, I have supervised to successful completion four PhDs and five MAs by Research, both as lead supervisor, and as co-supervisor with colleagues across the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies. I am currently supervisor for three PhD candidates. With my guidance and support, many of my research students have gone on to follow careers in academia. I also have one CONACYT (Mexican Government)-funded postdoctoral researcher working with me in 2019-20.
Current postgraduate researchers:
Research groups and institutes
- Cultural studies
- Network for Hispanic and Lusophone Cultural Studies
- Centre for Endangered Languages, Cultures and Ecosystems
- Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures
- Cultures and Societies
- Centre for World Literatures
- Digital Cultures
- Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies