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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles



I graduated with a First Class BA (Hons) degree in the History, Literature and Cultures of the Americas from the University of Warwick, where I received the Chris Clark Prize for my examination performance and the History Department’s Felix Dennis Prize for my finalist dissertation. I spent the third year of my undergraduate degree at Columbia University in New York City, studying Comparative Literature, Spanish, English and History. Following this, I moved to Cambridge to complete an MPhil in Latin American Studies with Distinction, funded by the Cambridge Home and European Scholarship Scheme. I began my AHRC-funded PhD in October 2014, under the supervision of Dr Geoffrey Kantaris. Throughout my PhD I have been Research Assistant to the Head of Spanish and Portuguese, Professor Brad Epps.


My PhD is a study of the politically charged literary and visual works that have emerged in response to escalating violence in contemporary Mexico. Providing close readings of fictional, theoretical and documentary works by award-winning authors such as Cristina Rivera Garza and Mario Bellatin and critically-acclaimed filmmakers including Carlos Reygadas and Natalia Almada, I examine cultural engagements with topics such as the political assassinations of the 1990s; the precariousness and dispossession brought on by neoliberalism; and the stark increase in violence prompted by the so-called ‘War on Drugs’.

The cultural texts I examine share a concern with visualising and deconstructing the close relationship between death and power that marks the political terrain. With reference to themes of narrative, visuality, embodiment and portrayals of the nonhuman, I trace out the ways in which these texts commonly employ a poetics rooted in dispersal, displacement and loss when approaching contemporary violence. These poetics, I argue, invoke novel questions about the relationship between aesthetics and violence, speak to critical shifts in the relationship between culture and the nation-state, and indicate transformations in the idea of the political.

I aim to offer an innovative framework through which to theorise these cultural processes by reframing the notion of ‘excess’, a foundational concept in scholarship on death and power that has seen a resurgence in contemporary political philosophy. In dialogue with authors such as Georges Bataille, Achille Mbembe, Adriana Cavarero, Roberto Esposito, Michel Foucault and Jacques Rancière, and with close reference to the burgeoning body of necropolitical theory authored in Mexico, I posit excess as an analytical term that encompasses both reflexive critiques of spectacular violence and latent forms of resistance to this violence that proceed through a lexicon of loss.


Key publications: 

I. Edited Collections

  • Bollington, Lucy and Merchant, Paul (eds). The Limits of the Human in Latin American Culture. Under contract with the University Press of Florida.

II. Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals

III. Translations

  • Translated two chapters from Spanish into English for Dr Joanna Page and Dr María Blanco (eds), Latin America at the Vanguard: Science and its Imaginaries (University Press of Florida, forthcoming):
  • Comastri, Hernán. ‘Inventions and Discoveries in Letters to Perón: Dialogue and Autonomy in the Popular Technical Imagination in Argentina in the 1940s and 1950s’.
  • Quereilhac, Soledad. ‘Modernismo, Spiritualism and Science in Argentina at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: An Analysis of National Magazines’.

For an updated list of my publications, please see my page

Department: Centre of Latin American Studies
Supervisor: Dr. Geoffrey Kantaris
College: Clare College
Title of Thesis: Reframing Excess: Death and Power in Contemporary Mexican Literary and Visual Culture
 Lucy  Bollington