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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles



After receiving my BA in Spanish and German from the University of Cambridge in 2013, I stayed on to complete an MPhil in Latin American Literatures and Cultures in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages. Broadly located within literary and cultural studies, my research interests pursue the messiness of identity and embodiment, as well as ethical and philosophical questions arising around cultural visibility, political representation, and testimony in Latin America. My MPhil thesis focused on the Chilean writer and performance artist Pedro Lemebel, rethinking the interfaces between disability and minority sexualities, social and racial marginality, in order to advance Lemebel's urban ‘chronicles’ as a radical practice of reflection in crisis.

My current work focuses on Afro-descendant cultural and political agency in Latin America. Departing from a cluster of problems that emerge from different understandings of 'freedom' in the work of various black writers and cultural actors, I am interested in the tension between flight and fixity, possession and dispossession, when we try to locate ‘blackness’ in Latin America, within or across nation states. My intention is to engage the emancipatory ambition of much postcolonial thinking on racism and nationalism, and to open spaces for those voices that are drowned out in ongoing nation-building projects in Latin America.

Department: Spanish and Portuguese
Supervisor: Dr Rory O'Bryen
College: King's
AHRC subject area: Languages and Literature
Title of thesis: [Provisional] In What Country?: Flight, Dispossession and the Locations of 'Blackness' in Latin America
 Benjamin  Quarshie