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Santiago Oyarzabal

I completed my PhD in the department of Film and Television Studies in 2013. That year I was the recipient of an IAS Early Career Fellowship, and at the moment I'm an Asociate Fellow of the new Hispanic Studies department).

I'm currently teaching Film History (Film), Latin American Themes and Problems (CAS), and Spanish (Language Centre).

My PhD thesis focused on representations of social crisis in Argentine fictional cinema 1998-2005 and my research interests include issues surrounding the relationship between film, history and the representation of society in cinema and television.

Before coming to the UK I completed a BA (Licenciatura) in Social Communication and Journalism and took an MA in Planification and Management of Communication Processes (Plangesco) both at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP), Argentina.

Since 1999 I also worked partly outside and in accademia. As a journalist I wrote for the national and regional media (newspapers and magazine) and was the main producer of radio programmes for one of the leading radios in La Plata. In accademia, I was appointed by the UNLP as an Assistant Professor and researcher in the areas of radio, TV and cinema.

My Research

Title: Representations of Social Crisis in Recent Argentine Cinema

My thesis engages with representations of social crisis in Argentine fictional cinema during 1998-2005, a period when Argentina experienced a deep economic crisis that brought about significant changes in politics, culture, society and the arts. The emphasis is upon the ways in which cinema interpreted both present and long-established dialogues with national and social discourse, while re-assessing notions of national identity, culture and social class.

The study contributes to a growing body of scholarship on Argentine film which has no precedent in history. In particular, works published in English over the last five years have offered fresh reflections upon a field that has remained dominated by narrative and aesthetic, rather than analytical, approaches.

By combining close textual analysis of films to the study of their cultural context my research argues that cinema addressed predominantly middle-class Argentine audiences with critical questions concerning the transformations they were experiencing over those years of crisis. As works of fiction, the films also offered ordinary people the possibility to identify with their own lives and values, stimulating critical reflection and emotional engagement, as well as enjoyment and laughter.

The modes through which these films addressed Argentine audiences are themselves as rich and complex as their narrative representations of crisis. Amongst the most compelling achievements of recent Argentine cinema are the diversity of its modes of address, its strong themes, interesting styles and captivating narrative strategies. These films offered domestic audiences both reflective and divergent views on social reality that, without any doubt, enriched the cultural arena in which Argentineans could reflect on their past, their daily life, their values and their relationship with social minorities. In this sense cinema helped Argentine people to learn to live in democracy.

Supervisors: Prof. John King (Comparative American Studies) and Prof. Stephen Gundle (Film and Television Studies).


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La ciénaga (The Swamp, Lucrecia Martel, 2001)

La ciénaga (The Swamp, Lucrecia Martel, 2001)