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CILAVS Seminars

Trajectories of the Militant Image: Filmmaking as Social Intervention and Experiment in Rural Portugal and Mozambique

Ros Gray (Goldsmiths)

Friday 24 June 2016, 6.00pm, Room 112, 43 Gordon Square, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1H 0PD

Please note that due to unforseen circumstances this event has been cancelled.

This seminar will examine practices and theories of militant filmmaking in the context of land occupations during the Carnation Revolution in Portugal and rural transformation in Mozambique after independence. It will focus on the extension of media networks across rural areas and different attempts to use filmmaking as a form of revolutionary intervention. Case studies will include Thomas Harlan's film Torre Bela and a number of interconnected projects in Mozambique associated with Eduardo Mondlane University. What questions do these projects, which were marginal to the Instituto Nactional de Cinema in Mozambique raise about archives and legacies of militant filmmaking? Angela Ferreira's work Political Cameras, which revisits the TBARN project carried out in Niassa in the 1980s, will be considered alongside other visual materials. 

Ros Gray is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Critical Studies in the Art Department at Goldsmiths. She is the author of numerous articles journals including ARTMargins, The Journal of Visual Cultures, The Journal of African Cinemas and Textile: Journal of Cloth and Culture. Ros has contributed to books such as Postcommunist Film: Russian, Eastern European and World Culture, the Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies, Renée Green's book Endless Dreams and Time-Based Streams and a three-volume book published in Portuguese on the history of filmmaking in Angola. Ros Gray was co-editor with Kodwo Eshun of a special issue of Third Text entitled 'The Militant Image: A Ciné-Geography', and co-curated a number of related film programmes in Iniva in London and at Musée Quai de Branly in Paris. She is on the Editorial Board of Third Text, and is currently preparing two publications - a monograph entitled Cinemas of the Mozambican Revolution and a special issue of Third Text called 'Botanical Conflicts: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Soil and Planting'.

A drinks reception will follow.

All welcome, no booking is required.


Public Tears and Secrets of the Heart: Political Emotions in a State of Crisis

L. Elena Delgado (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

Wednesday 11 May 2016, 6.00pm, Room 112, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1H 0PD

In a society of hyper-communication, compulsive transparency and prescribed positivity, who can make claims, express political grievances and “speak from the heart” in the public sphere? How does the study of political emotions, particularly at a time of economic and social crisis, illuminate current notions of democratic citizenship and social justice? This talk will start by analyzing the ubiquitous presence of heart-centered images and rhetoric in the “Spain of crisis” (as it has come to be known in Spanish), something quite remarkable considering that its prevalence coincides with the rising public visibility of fraud and corruption scandals, in all segments of society. I will continue by examining the contradiction implicit in the exigency of a transparent heart when the visceral truths that are exposed to the public unsettle and stir, rather than soothe and patch up. I will then focus on recent movements that have successfully mobilized social and political activism, and in doing so have been accused of stirring visceral (and therefore irrational) reactions: secessionism in Scotland and Catalonia and the movement of the Outraged (Indignados) in Spain. I will show how through the deployment of both “negative” (outrage or anger) and “positive” (hope, joy) emotions, those movements have contested the orchestration of neoliberal psycho-politics in times of crisis and managed to reclaim their space in the democratic public sphere.

L. Elena Delgado is Professor of Spanish Literature and Cultures, Criticism and Interpretive Theory and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). She is also affiliated with the Center for Global Studies and The European Union Center. The focus of her current research and teaching is the construction of a Spanish national cultural identity in the democratic period, aesthetics and ideology in modern and contemporary Spanish literature, and emotions and affects in/as culture. Her most recent authored book is La nación singular.  Fantasías de la normalidad democrática española  (1996-2011)  [Siglo XXI, 2014, The Singular Nation: Fantasies of Spanish democratic normalcy] for which she was a finalist for the National Book Award in Spain, in the category of essay. She has recently completed a co-edited book entitled Engaging the Emotions in Spanish History and Culture (from the Enlightment to the Present) published by Vanderbilt UP (2016). She has written numerous articles and given presentations and keynote lectures all over the world. She is the editor of a book series on contemporary Hispanic and Lusophone Studies for Liverpool University Press, and a permanent member of the editorial team of the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies. She is currently working on two projects: one a cultural history of modern Spanish literature, co-authored with Jo Labanyi (Polity Press) and another, tentatively entitled The Transparent Heart: Political Emotions in a state of crisis, on which she will be working on next year thanks to a fellowship from the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.

This seminar is organized by CILAVS in collaboration with the Comparative Research in European Cultures and Identities (CRECI) Centre.

All welcome, no booking is required

Memory as Montage: The Visual Archive of the Spanish Civil War

Sebastiaan Faber (Oberlin College)

Tuesday 9 February 2016, 6.00pm, Keynes Library, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1H 0PD

Images were central to the story of the Spanish Civil War and continue to be central in its memory today. After all, the war in Spain was the first major armed conflict to be covered by the modern visual media, equipped with newly portable photo and film cameras. Telling this visual story was not a mere matter of shooting films and photographs, however; it was also one of cutting and pasting. The photomontage, whose use had spread rapidly since the 1920s, became a crucial tool not just for propaganda posters but in journalism as well. And yet the centrality of montage as a tool for truth-telling has not been sufficiently acknowledged. A treasure hunt through the visual archive of the Spanish Civil War yields some surprising finds that place long-standing debates about the historical memory of the conflict in a new light.

Sebastiaan Faber is Professor of Hispanic Studies at Oberlin College and visiting researcher at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. He has published widely on Spanish and Latin American literature and culture. He is the author of Exile and Cultural Hegemony: Spanish Intellectuals in Mexico, 1939-1975 (Vanderbilt, 2002) and Anglo-American Hispanists and the Spanish Civil War: Hispanophilia, Commitment, and Discipline (Palgrave, 2008), and has co-edited Contra el olvido. El exilio expañol en Estados Unidos (U de Alcalá, 2009). From 2010 till 2015 he served as the Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA), whose quarterly journal The Volunteer he co-edits.

A drinks reception will follow.

Please click here to download a copy of the poster.

All welcome, no booking is required.

Anachronisms? El Escorial and the Christian Reconquest: Preserving Visual Chronicles of Warfare in Early Modern Castile

Laura Fernández-González (University of Lincoln)

Wednesday 18 November 2015, 6.00pm, Keynes Library, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1H 0PD

The Hall of Battles in El Escorial Monastery is a long gallery covered in frescoes commissioned by Philip II of Spain (1527-1598). The gallery is one among of the most remarkable spaces in El Escorial.  The building itself is a prime example of the Austriaco style in architecture developed by Philip II and his architects. The longest fresco in the Hall depicting the Battle of La Higueruela of 1431 against the moors of the Kingdom of Granada, completely covers the wall adjacent to the basilica. Facing this, in the wall panels between the nine windows of the chamber, a number of scenes are depicted representing Philip II's victories in the Netherlands and France, including the famous battle of St. Quentin (1557). The remaining walls in the room are painted with frescoes of the battles of the Azores and of Tercera. The battles represent some of Philip II's triumphs and those of his ancestry.

The selection of battles represented in the frescoes has been highly debated by scholars. Many have wondered why the Lepanto and Tunis campaigns were not present, and more importantly, why Philip decided to include La Higueruela.This fresco has been believed to be only surviving copy of a fifteenth-century 'contemporary' battle representation in Castile (and not a representation of a Biblical or mythological battle), other than the Pastrana tapestry series which display a complete different artistic style. However, a series of drawings copying mural representations of battles in the south of Castile have emerged recently, among them, a copy of a fresco that represent the Battle of Jimena (1431) which formed part of the same campaign led by Joan II of Castile against the Kingdom of Granada, (which was defeated in the battle of La Higueruela). Thus this paper compares both depictions and contextualises the representation of warfare in Philip II's royal collections.  In addition, this paper will consider chronicles of warfare and history recording during Philip's reign.

Dr Laura Fernández-González is a Lecturer in Architectural History at the University of Lincoln. Laura’s research programme and publication record concern cultural exchange, the relationship between centres and peripheries, and how these tensions are reflected in the artistic and architectural production of the early modern Spanish and Portuguese global empires.  Laura is currently completing a monograph entitled Philip II of Spain and the Wider World. The City, the Archive and the Fame of the Universal Monarch. In addition, Laura has co-edited a book titled Festival Culture in the World of the Spanish Habsburgs that will be published by Ashgate on September 2015.

A drinks reception will follow.

Please click here to download a copy of the poster.

All welcome, no booking is required.


Tejas Verdes: I was not there

An Aesthetic Intervention and a Meditation on Absence

Friday 3 June  - 15 July 2016, Peltz Gallery, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1H 0PD

'Tejas Verdes: I was not there' is a collaborative project between sociologist Margarita Palacios and visual artist Livia Marin. Bringing together Palacios’ research on violence and Marin’s work around loss and care, the project consists of visiting several ex-detention and extermination sites in Chile and the performing of an aesthetic intervention in each of them. The result of the intervention is the production of a series of abstract realist objects that register traces of the material remains of these sites, marking the materiality of the violent event in its multiple layers of meaning and yet registering its unreadability. This aesthetic intervention explores the possibilities of representing violence without reproducing it and the challenges of non-colonizing experiences of witnessing. The exhibition includes as well a photo projection that shows numerous images of both sites and objects aiming to document the places and the experience of collaboration.

This project is part of an itinerant exhibition and academic events that starts in London in June 2016 and then visits Berlin and Vienna. In each opportunity there will be an exhibition and an academic event organised with Birkbeck College, University of London, Lateinamerika-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin, and the Institut für Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften, Akademie der bildenden Künste in Vienna. The project will the continue touring to Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile during 2017.

This collaborative research project was funded by The Leverhulme Trust and FONDART (Chilean National Fund for the Arts and Culture) and the itinerant exhibition has been made possible through the funding of DIRAC (Chilean Office of Cultural Affairs) and the support of CILAVS.

Opening hours

Monday-Friday: 10am - 8pm

Saturday: 10am - 5pm (Unless otherwise stated)

The exhibition’s opening reception at the Peltz Gallery will be held at the gallery on Friday 3 June from 6 to 8pm. The following week, in the School of Arts a roundtable titled, 'The Aesthetics of Witnessing: A Conversation about Violence and the Challenges of its Representation' will be held. Running on Thursday 9 June at 6pm in room B04, as part of the Birkbeck Department of Psychosocial Studies’ summer programme 2016, the event will feature live discussion between top academics:

·  Vikki Bell (Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths College)

·  Natalia Sobrevilla Perea (Reader in Hispanic Studies, University of Kent)

·  Jelke Boesten (Reader in Emerging Economies and International Development, Kings College London)

·  Margarita Palacios (Senior Lecturer in Social Theory, Birkbeck)

·  Livia Marin (visual artist)

This event is sponsored by Birkbeck's MA in Psychosocial Studies programme. Find out more about the roundtable event here (attendance is free but booking is essential). 

CILAVS Events at Birkbeck Arts Week

Indigenous filmmaking in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia

Monday 16 May 2016, 6.00-9.00pm, Room B04, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1H 0PD

Tuesday 17 May 2016, 6.00-9.00pm, Room 110,  School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1H 0PD

Sunday 22 May 2016, 6.30-8.30pm, Muxima Cafe, 618 Roman Road, Bow, London E3 2RW

A unique opportunity to see four contemporary films by Arhuaco Indigenous filmmaker Amado Villafaña, including discussions and Q&A sessions with critics and filmmakers.

These events are free and open to all.

Click here for the programme.

Please follow the links below to book a place. Booking is not required for the event on Sunday 22 May.

Monday 16 May

Tuesday 17 May

Hollywood depictions of Portugal and Europe

Friday 20 May 2016, 2.00-5.00pm, Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

During World War II and the Cold War, Europe served as the setting of numerous Hollywood productions, particularly stories of intrigue and espionage. This event will include a screening of the 1944 spy thriller The Conspirators (a follow-up to Casablanca, set in Lisbon) as well as a conversation with historians Rui Lopes and Martin Shipway about the ways in which US cinema depicted Portugal and other European countries during this historical period.

This event is free and open to all.

Please click here to book a place.

Film Screening with Q&A

London as a Village

Talk with filmmaker Takumã Kuikuro

Moderated by Prof Paul Heritage (Queen Mary University of London)

Wednesday 24 February 2016, 6.00-7.00pm, Birkbeck Cinema, Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

In April 2015, filmmaker Takumã Kuikuro travelled all the way from his village, set within the Xingu Indigenous Territory (North Brazil), to the UK to take up a challenge from People’s Palace Projects: to spend a month in London producing and directing a film that would capture his vision of the city as a “village”.Takumã was selected from dozens of applicants through a grant scheme called Culture Connection Brazil, promoted by Brazil’s Ministry of Culture with the support of British Council and the Transform Programme. He was commissioned to record London from an indigenous perspective, exploring similarities and differences between his Kuikuro culture and the Londoners he christened “the Hyper-Whites”. The result is  a captivating and humorous anthropological documentary about western society and the many villages hidden under the skyscrapers of London.

Internationally recognised filmmaker Takumã is a member of the Kuikuro people, and grew up in the Ipatse village within the Alto Xingú Indigenous Territory in Mato Grosso state, central Brazil.  Aged 18, he was introduced to a group of anthropologists studying the villages, and became keen to learn Portuguese. It was through the anthropologists’ documentary team that he also discovered a passion: filmmaking. Through the project Video nas Aldeias - a film project that trains indigenous people to document their society and culture through images, founded by anthropologist Vicente Carelli, – Takumã started to shoot, direct and edit films about his village’s day to day activities, rituals and oral stories. His films started to spread quickly across Brazil and internationally, and soon he was presenting them in both  local and international Festivals. He was acclaimed for films such as The Day the Moon Menstruated, The Hyperwomen and Kariokas.

Takumã became an Associate Artist of People’s Palace Projects in Autumn 2015.

Please click here to download a copy of the poster.

All are welcome, no booking is required.

Film Festival

UTOPIA - 6th UK Portuguese Film Festival

Saturday 21 November 2015, Room B04, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1H 0PD


  • 2.15pm - Warriors (Quem vai à guerra, Marta Pessoa, Portugal, 2011, 130mins)

Forty years after its abrupt conclusion, Portugal's colonial war is still a sensitive and opaque topic, with narratives built mostly around male protagonist, as if only the men had been veterans of war and only they became its victims. A country at war: could anyone not be affected by it? The unexpected stories this documentary has pieced together, along with the charismatic personalities of its storytellers, trigger in us the desire to know more about the history of the colonial war and about the role of women in it. Warriors is told by those who were left behind to wait, those who surprisingly chose to stay on the war front with their husbands and those who ran onward to rescue the soldiers from the front lines. This film is an unveiling of women´s role in colonial history while, at the same time, a rare insight by a woman filmmaker on the topic of war.

  • 4.30-5.30pm - Roundtable and Q&A: On the invisibility of women in film and history

A must-see debate where Al jazeera filmmaker Ana Noemi de Sousa and film historian Maria do Carmo Piçarra will be joined by Warriors' director Marta Pessoa to discuss ‘the invisibility of women in film and in the histories of colonialism and war’. The debate will open up to questions from the audience after the round table.

Please click here to watch a video of this roundtable.

Both events are free

Panelists' biographies

Marta Pessoa was born in Lisbon in 1974. Has a degree in Cinema Studies (areas of Cinematography and Directing) by the ESTC – Polythecnic of Lisbon and a Masters in Communication Sciences by the FCSH - New University of Lisbon. Has worked as Director of Photography on numerous documentaries and fiction films since 1996. Among other films, directed the shorts Fair Day (2004), Someone Will Watch Over You (2005), Manual Of The Domestic Feeling (2007), Black Mold (2015) and the documentaries Lisbon’s Under Arrest (2009), Warriors (2011) and The Lurking Fear (2015). In 2013, along with Rita Palma and João Pinto Nogueira she founded the production company Três Vinténs.

Maria do Carmo Piçarra is a film historian and post-doctoral researcher on the topic of 'Portugal, France and England: Empire Representations in Film' at University of Minho, Portugal, and University of Reading, England. Amongst other publications, she is the author of Salazar vai ao cinema (Salazar goes to the movies) and of a trilogy on Angolan cinema. She is a journalist, film critic and film programmer, and the co-editor of Aniki, the journal of the Portuguese Association of film Researchers  (AIM).

Ana Naomi de Sousa is an independent documentary filmmaker born and raised in London. She studied modern languages at Bristol University, and went on to work as a translator, living in Portugal, Cape Verde, Brazil and Angola. In 2010 she joined the international TV network, Al Jazeera English, where she worked across a variety of current affairs and documentary programmes. She is the director of the documentaries Angola: Birth of a Movement (2012); Guerrilla Architect (2013); The Architecture of Violence (2014) and Hacking Madrid (2015).

Further information on all films

FACEBOOK FilmvilleUKPortugueseFilmFestival

TWITTER @Portuguesefilm

Download programme here.

The festival is funded by Instituto Camões, sponsored by TAP Portugal and kindly supported by the Portuguese Embassy in London



Circular: 4th Brazilian Youth Film Festival

Saturday 24 October 2015, 1.30-5.30pm, Room B33, Main Building, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street (entrance via Torrington Square), London WC1E 7HX

CILAVS is delighted to host the 4th edition of Circular: Brazilian Youth Film Festival, bringing to London the best films made in Brazil for youthful audiences. The films screened at the Circular Festival offer the opportunity for all to have a direct contact with the Portuguese language and the reality of Brazilian children in different regions across the country, bringing into focus their habits, their customs and their different regional accents.The Festival’s aim is to provide to children and teenagers alike, residing outside Brazil, the valuable opportunity to link the Portuguese language to the Brazilian culture and their roots through carefully selected films made in Brazil, portraying Brazilian stories that are not easily accessible to a wider audience in the UK.

For more details and the programme please follow this link.

Birkbeck Food Group Seminar

Eating the New World: Foods from the Americas in the Old World, 1500-1700

Rebecca Earle (Warwick University)

Wednesday 11 November 2015, 11-12.30pm, Paul Hirst Room (102), 10 Gower Street, Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1E 6HJ

Prof Rebecca Earle is a cultural historian of Spanish America and early modern Europe at Warwick University. She is interested in how ordinary, every-day cultural practices such as eating or dressing, or using stamps, or reading poems, shapes how we think about the world.

This event is organized by the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research - Birkbeck Food Group in collaboration with CILAVS.

All welcome, no booking is required.

Centre for Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD