Professor Thea Pitman
- Position: Professor of Latin American Studies
- Areas of expertise: Latin/x American digital cultures; Latin/x American literature, film, art, and popular culture; Indigenous cultures and cultural production in Abya Yala; decolonial approaches; Spanish; Portuguese.
- 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). I was also an elected member of Senate from 2013–16.
At Leeds, I am 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 Centre for Endangered Languages, Cultures and Ecosystems (CELCE). I am also involved in the new Leverhulme-funded Doctoral Training Programme in Extinction Studies and the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies (CERS).
I am currently president of the Society for Latin American Studies (2021–23); member of the Steering committee for the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London; 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 board for Tamesis Books and co-editor with Professor Stephanie Dennison for the Tamesis Series in Popular and Digital Cultures. I am also a member of the advisory and/or editorial boards of six journals and of the advisory boards for three major research 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 in contemporary Latin/x 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
- indigenous studies/decolonial approaches
- environmental humanities/ecocriticism/extinction studies
- travel writing
- women’s writing
- film studies
- popular cultures
- Subject Research Leader for Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
- Postgraduate Tutor, Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
My research over the last 15 years has mainly focused on the fast-expanding field of Latin/x American digital cultural production as well as on digital activism and new social movements. It has included 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, as well as a steady stream of articles, chapters and short-form scholarship, including the first survey of Latin/x American women’s contributions to the field, published in Latin American Literature Today (2019).
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 (dir. Sebastián Gerlic). 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) as well as the monograph Decolonising the Museum: The Curation of Indigenous Contemporary Art in Brazil (Tamesis, 2021).
As a follow-up to work on the AEI project, I enabled the Origem photography project in early 2019, led by Antônio Pankararu and Laryssa Machada and focusing on the representation of LGBTQI+ subjectivities in the Pankararu and Tupinambá de Olivença Indigenous communities. Although delayed by the pandemic, we plan to exhibit the work as part of the Leeds and North East ¡Vamos! Festival in Summer 2022. I was also co-convenor of the 2020-21 Sadler Seminar Series ‘Curating and Exhibiting Visual Culture in Times of Coronavirus’ led by Professor Stephanie Dennison, together with Dr Simon Popple and Dr Gill Park. The series focused on case studies from Brazil and the UK, and included a guest lecture by Brazil’s first Indigenous curator of a mainstream art institution Sandra Benites.
I have also 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.
As a follow-up to the Sumak Kawsay project, I am working with Dr Diane Nelson, Idiane Kariri-Xocó and Nhenety Kariri-Xocó, with the support of colleagues at Thydêwá (Sebastián Gerlic and Helder Cámara Jr), on an ongoing project to support the revitalisation of the Kariri-Xocó language.
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, President (2021-23)
- 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
I teach Latin American cultural studies through a decolonial lens 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.
To date, I have supervised to successful completion five PhDs and five MAs by Research, both as lead supervisor, and as co-supervisor with colleagues across the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies and the wider University. I am currently supervisor for four PhD candidates, including one through the Leverhulme-funded Doctoral Training Programme in Extinction Studies, and one MA by Research. With my guidance and support, many of my postgraduate researchers have gone on to follow careers in academia.
Current postgraduate researchers:
Research groups and institutes
- 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
- Literary studies
- Cinema and Television
- Digital cultures