Laura Jane Lee Kemp

Position: PhD Candidate
Institution: University of Cambridge
Geographical area: Western Europe

Research areas: Contemporary Spanish Film and Television, Cultural Trauma Theory, Feminist Film Theory and the History of the Spanish Civil War.


My current research is concerned with the affective representation of the cinematic body of victims in contemporary screen media about the Spanish Civil War. As the representation and appropriation of childhood in relation to the Civil War is an established trope within Spanish cinema, the juvenile body and the childhood subject occupy a significant part of this analysis. Through the investigation of films produced since the turn of the century, including Guillermo del Toro’s ‘El Laberinto del fauno’ (2006) and ‘El espinazo del diablo’ (2001), Augusti Villaronga’s ‘Pa negre’ (2010) and José Luis Cuerda’s ‘Los girasoles ciegos’ (2008), my thesis explores how the body of the victim, an un-dead non-civilian similar to Agamben’s Homo Sacer, is re-constituted on screen. If an affective connection can be created between the cinematic body and the spectatorial body, the victim may be re-located inside the state of sovereignty and citizenship. This in turn enables the figure of the victim, or the victimised child, to reclaim a sense of agency and become an integral subject in the development of a cultural trauma narrative. My research therefore considers the interactive space occupied by the representation of childhood, victimhood, cultural trauma and Spain’s national identity in contemporary ‘heritage’ cinema.

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