My research looks at contemporary representations of the relationship between France and North Africa, particularly Algeria, as figured in French literature and film.
My first monograph, Writing Postcolonial France: Haunting, Literature and the Maghreb (Lexington 2011) looked at the various manifestations of the haunting legacies of France’s colonial past in North Africa. It examined the forms assumed by the ghosts of the past in fiction from a range of genres (travel writing, detective fiction, life writing, historical fiction, women’s writing) produced within metropolitan France to assess the effects of moments of haunting on structures of cultural memory. By viewing metropolitan France through the prism of its relationship with its former colonies in the Maghreb, it mapped the memorial complexities of postcoloniality in the contemporary Hexagon.
My current project focuses on the pied-noir European settlers of Algeria, most of whom were forced to leave Algeria for France at independence in 1962. Although the European population held French citizenship, the identity and culture of the Algerian départements demonstrated a hybridity that was distinct from the Frenchness of the Hexagon. This, combined with the ill-feeling caused by the Algerian war, led to mutual hostility and distrust following repatriation, and raising questions about the relationship between metropole and colony, and the nature of settler colonisation. Although over the decades the pieds-noirs have integrated fully into French society their community has retained a distinctive identity, manifesting a North African dimension within contemporary France which continues to influence French politics, culture and society.
Key words: France; Algeria; pieds-noirs; postcolonial; identity; memory; literature; film.
My research looks at contemporary Spanish Gothic culture, with an emphasis on Spanish cinema. It seeks to trace Spanish Gothic as part of a wider cultural exchange and transfer. It seeks to tease out the Gothic specifically within Spanish culture it seeks simultaneously to connect that culture with debates further afield, looking at the interplay between national and transnational concerns. Its theoretical underpinning lies primarily within Gothic scholarship but also draws on the scholarship of contemporary Spanish and transnational culture. Marsha Kinder, in her seminal work on Spanish cinema, Blood Cinema, argues for the concept of transcultural reinscription: ‘the ideological reinscription of conventions that are borrowed from other cultures and set in conflict with each other, a process of hybridization that is capable of carving out a new aesthetic language’. My research refigures the idea of transcultural reinscription away from the implied sense of a unidirectional flow. Instead, it takes the contemporary Gothic not as simply a reinscription specifically within Spanish culture, but as multiple and simultaneous reinscriptions whereby Spanish culture comes to participate in a wider Gothic in which the generic and the specific are constantly in play and at play.
My work on this project to date has included two papers submitted for publication:
● Contemporary Spanish Gothic Heroines and the Preference for Meaning over Narrative
● Spanish Gothic Cinema: the hidden continues of a hidden genre
I am now working on a book-length study, to cover the following topics:
● Heritage Gothic: Goya biopics
● The Gothic bestseller: the circulation of excess
● The Gothic house: problematizing the national space
● The Gothic camera: Javier Aguirresarobe at home and in Hollywood
● Gothic medicine: written on the body.
My research focuses on indigenous languages and Amerindian cultures of the Andes and their interrelationship with the viceregal and later the nation state. A central point of my research is how cultural manifestations, due to the colonial background, always of a ‘hybrid’ character in the Andes, are expressed through different kinds of discourse which reflect the tensions and power stuctures colonial (and neo-colonial) societies are subject to: in native language textual documents, in chronicles, in personal testimonies, in missionary documentation etc. I address these multiple voices which are situated between (ethno)historical, linguistic, literary and cultural fields of study and therefore I develop my own flexible methodological framework.
In this context I am particularly interested in the language of Christianisation, especially in Quechua, and analyse the translation of culture and the dynamics of religious change, above all in the framework of the encounter and clash of cultures in the colonial era.
My most recent edited book is: Translating Wor(l)ds: Christianity across Cultural Boundaries. (Collectanea Instituti Anthropos 51.) Baden-Baden: Academia Verlag 2019.
See my website: http://www.dedenbachsalazar.stir.ac.uk/
Key words: Andean indigenous cultures and languages – prehispanic, colonial and Republican eras; Christianisation in a colonial context; translation of culture; ethnohistory of the Andes; methodological approaches to ethnohistory; ethnolinguistics and formal linguistics of Quechua, Aymara and Chipaya.
I have recently published, for the French publisher Gallimard, the second and final volume of the collected works of the novelist Claude Simon (Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 2013), Nobel prize-winner in 1985. This involves cross-cultural study in that Simon’s novels deal in part with the Spanish Civil War, particularly with Catalonia, and in part with his experience of Russia, both as reader and visitor. One of his novels is a rewriting of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot and takes up the ancient European motif of the Holy Fool. Another deals with Marxism as the God which failed, describing a visit to the Soviet Union and a meeting with Gorbachev in 1986.
I recently co-edited a book entitled Le Rire européen (Presses universitaires de Perpignan, 2010). This studies how different European cultures and countries laugh at themselves and at one another, and how collectively they have laughed at non-Europeans and are laughed at by them. The contributors to the volume were literary scholars, linguists, historians and sociologists from a variety of European countries and from Africa. My own contribution was a study of caricatures of black people in the European press at the height of the colonial era between 1880 and 1960.
My current project, entitled “Kirkpatrick Fleming, then and now”, is a study of identity and language in the culturally mixed, Scottish-English community of Kirkpatrick Fleming, Dumfriesshire (half a dozen miles north of Gretna on the M74). It looks at the past and present of the parish through interviews with individuals and groups of various ages. This study in oral history is undertaken in collaboration with Kirkpatrick Fleming Primary School and funded by a local charity.
I am interested in ‘crossing cultures’ in education at secondary or high school level and in universities, with a particular focus on what is usually referred to in Scottish schools (or more widely in the UK) as ‘religious’ education. In public and policy contexts we could perhaps say that values of equity and equality have acquired ‘sacred’ status in recent years. Thus revealed inequalities and inequities motivate research and direct government strategies, not the least in education. But dealing in equality and equity – despite the fact that these ideals are not, in essence, equivalent to sameness and identity – there is a tendency to gloss over the challenges of critical self-reflection in the light of actual differences. Religious Education has undoubtedly functioned as one of the contexts in the school currculum in which reflection on the differences between cultures has been positively encouraged, at least since the settlement negotiated in the 60s and 70s shifted it away from an earlier Christian exceptionalism. However smuggled into this apparently more equitable approach to ‘world religions’ were a range of hidden philosophical assumptions that, in the academy at least, have been increasingly identified as western, masculinist, colonial and sometimes hetero-patriarchal. Compounding the difficulties of genuinely crossing cultures in schools and universities during this period, in addition, school curricula have become increasingly subject to rigid patterns of measurability, which far from encouraging engagement with real and challenging differences, flatten encounters out in terms of the demand for conformity and sameness. I and my colleagues propose a model of young people, teachers and academics as, rather, ‘becoming ethnographers’ engaged in uniquely located passages through constantly changing cultural spaces both inside and outwith school premises.
My work in this area has taken the form of a long-term collaboration with a colleague in the Faculty of Social Sciences here at Stirling (Dr John I’Anson), resulting in a number of publications, workshops, research projects and, most recently, a jointly-authored book, Schooling Indifference: Reimagining RE in multi-cultural and gendered spaces (Gender, Theology and Spirituality). London & New York: Routledge, June 2017. Now, in relation to the MSc in Professional Education and Leadership at Stirling, we are taking our ideas forward in the context of a course in promoting equity: theory, principles and critique. This project has been funded by the Scottish Government in support of collaborative work on the Scottish Attainment Challenge by a consortium of Scottish Universities and is designed to offer support and mentoring to teachers and leaders in educational contexts who are seeking ways of improving and expanding the capacity of schools to foster the identification and positive evaluation of engaging differences from questions of postcolonial, disaporic and gender identity to those of (theo)poetics and ontology. In particular, we seek to define the educational in these changing spaces in terms of criticality, ethical responsibility and the on-going encouragement of what tends towards the creative and exploratory.
Key words: postcolonialism, diasporic identities, creativity, critical ethical practice, gender, ethnography (theo)poetics, ontology, difference, equality and equity
Alongside a longstanding interest in post-conflict commemoration in France and its various manifestations in sculpture, literature and film, my recent research has been focused on updating a previous British Academy funded research project on migrant communities in the Pyrénées-Orientales – third-generation Spanish Republicans, Catalan-speaking gypsies, and post-Algerian independence exiles in metropolitan France (pieds-noirs) – to include contemporary socio-religious practice among the majority Catholic settler population. This was the subject of a research paper entitled ‘Notre-Dame d’Afrique – Our Lady of Africa. Repatriating religion, translating exile: the pied-noir experience in Carnoux, Bouches-du-Rhône’ delivered at the ‘Translating Christianities’ conference at Stirling in December 2015.
Currently and by contrast, I am investigating the experience of Algeria’s very small Protestant settler community; initial findings were aired at the ‘Crossing cultures’ workshop on Religion, colonialism and gender in September 2019. Such research involves a degree of interdisciplinary ‘border crossing’– generic, representational, theoretical, linguistic – and in the colonial/post-colonial religious spheres in particular, a consciousness of the constraints, opportunities and ambiguities arising from the ‘insider-outsider’ relationship common to the researcher and the ethnographic object of his/her enquiry.
‘The long good-bye: pied-noir re-settlement in the Pyrénees-Orientales’, in S. Gémie and S. Soo (eds), Coming Home? Vol. 2: Conflict and postcolonial return migration between France and North Africa, 1962-2009 (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013), pp. 33-52.
‘(Un) packing the suitcases: postcolonial memory and iconography’, in France’s Colonial Legacies: Memory, Identity and Narrative, edited by Fiona Barclay (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2013). pp. 129-149.
‘Remembering Lacombe Lucien – becoming Lucien Lacombe: mirror image or broken mirror?’ In P. Tame, M. Braganca and D. Jeannerod (eds), Mnemosyne and Mars: artistic and cultural representations of twentieth-century Europe at war (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013), pp. 41-58.
“Occupation–Liberation: A View from the lycée.” Journal of War & Culture Studies, 2015; 8(3), 214-227.
‘Une mémoire de pierre’: Spaces of Memory and Grammars of Remembrance in Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion (1937)’, in Marcelline Block and Barry Nevin (eds.), French Cinema and the Great War. Remembrance and Representation. Rowman and Littlefield, 2016, pp. 117-130.
Key words: exile; identity; pilgrimage; remembrance; sacred and secular.
My research focuses on contemporary Latin American literature. One of my key research interests is the use of parody in 20th Century fiction. On that particular topic, I have published a monograph, entitled Modos de parodia. My book seeks to identify and interrogate some of the principal objectives of modern parody at a crucial juncture for Latin American literature. Parody features strongly in the novels of the Boom (1960s) and in the years after. Traditionally, parody is perceived as a form of burlesque and it is generally accepted that parody ridicules a pre-text through the use of satire and harsh irony. However, through detailed case studies of works by several Cuban and Mexican writers, it will become clear that the objectives of modern parody are remarkably diverse. Its most acknowledged function is ridicule, but my book demonstrates that in contemporary Latin American literature parody is also employed to engage with metafictional concerns, to comment on extra-literary issues and to articulate literary criticism, including parody in the form of praise. In this context, I have also published articles on Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Reinaldo Arenas and Jorge Ibargüengoitia.
My interest in parody has also led me to focus on political fiction in post-revolutionary Mexico. Parody can be employed, amongst other things, to rewrite historical discourse to subvert the “official version”, challenge the perception of past events and, by extension, comment on socio-political issues. This project has already received funding in the form of two small research grants (BritishAcademy, Carnegie Trust). Since the Mexican Revolution, the Mexican novel has become increasingly politicised and many writers have chosen modes of creative nonfiction (testimonial novel, nonfiction novel, documentary novel, New Journalism, etc.) over other novelistic expressions. I therefore seek to analyse how socio-political issues were explored at the intersection of literature, journalism and political crisis through the study of works by writers such as Jorge Ibargüengoitia, Elena Poniatowska, Cristina Pacheco, Vicente Leñero, René Áviles Fabila, Maria Luisa Mendoza, Hernán Lara Zavala, José Revueltas and Héctor Aguilar Camín. To deepen the understanding of the political novel in contemporary Mexican narrative (1940s-2000s), it is crucial to investigate questions of authenticity and objectivity with respect to the depiction of events and reader perception as well as the role political fiction has played in the on-going process of shaping Mexican democracy.
Most recently, I have begun to research Mexican crime fiction. The novela negra in its broadest sense is extremely popular in Latin America. However, it is not as well researched as crime fiction in the Anglophone world. This may be because it is frequently considered to be an inferior genre, a mere copy of the English mystery or the U.S. hard-boiled crime novel, or, possibly, because of the limited existence of successful detective series. My current research project therefore aims to show that modern Mexican crime fiction is of enormous importance and should be considered as a meaningful barometer of society. By looking at the works of Vicente Leñero, Jorge Ibargüengoitia, Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Jorge Volpi, Ignacio Padilla and Myriam Laurini, I will show how the classic detective novel has been adapted by these novelists to become pertinent in a country with a notoriously corrupt justice system. The traditional role of the detective is to solve crimes so that order can be restored with the help of the authorities; this is a patently absurd scenario for a readership who has lost all faith in the integrity of the MexicanState.
Key words: Latin American literature; Mexico; Cuba; parody; journalism; creative nonfiction, crime fiction.
My research focuses on aspects of European interaction with the Middle East. Specifically, deriving from my doctoral thesis, I have published a monograph on Scottish ecclesial and missionary interaction with Palestine in the 19th and early 20th centuries (IB Tauris, 2006), but have also published a number of essays and articles examining wider involvement of Europeans in the Middle East.
I am working on two projects at the moment. Firstly, I am seeking to compare Scottish and German interaction in Palestine between ca. 1917-1939, with a particular focus on the communication and transfer of gender norms, which were undergoing tremendous flux in all three contexts at this time. Using this, I intend to show how the understandings of Zionist/British/Palestinian modernities can be elaborated on to offer far more complex rivalling modernities. Secondly, I am working on a smaller project that seeks to examine the politics of transnationalism, which I argue is a construction that primarily serves the former colonial and contemporary neo-colonial powers. Related to this, I am looking at the role of story-telling, especially in creating and sustaining myths of origin and similar positions.
I also have an interest in understanding the categories of ‘religion’, ‘culture’, ‘politics’ etc. in global contexts, and the ways in which it is possible (or not!) to relate these across cultural boundaries. In particular, I examine so-called ‘extremist’ interpretations of religion (religious Revisionist Zionism, Islamism etc.), and the way in which political ideology and religious belief are fused. How the appropriate locus of such beliefs and ideologies in public life is interpreted and understood is a key aspect of this interest.
I initiated and co-run the Christians in the Middle East network (www.cme.stir.ac.uk), which also addresses issues relevant to this research group. I am also part of the Critical Religion Research Group (www.criticalreligion.stir.ac.uk) and the editor of the Critical Religion Association blog (www.criticalreligion.org).
Key words: Scotland; Germany; Palestine; Middle East; mission; gender; modernity; colonialism; postcolonialism; reculturation; hybridity; metropoles; peripheries; migration; transnationalism; Islam; Zionism.
Brian Murdoch has recently completed a comparative study of the unusual but very widespread legend of Gregorius: Gregorius: An Incestuous Saint in Medieval Europe and Beyond (Oxford Universtiy Press 2012). Gregorius was an incestuous (apocryphal) saint and pope, across a range of medieval literatures (early French, German, Low German, Icelandic, English and Latin texts exist), plus a whole group of reflections of the story in folktales in languages including Irish, Romansch, Russian and Coptic (where he becomes a patriarch). There is also a well-known modern version by Thomas Mann. In spite of the unusual content, Gregorius is still an Everyman figure and he crosses religious divides too in that there is a Hasidic folktale (where he becomes a rabbi).
His investigation into Christianities in different cultures continues in the preparation (also for OUP) of an on-line bibliographical introduction to Old and New Testament apocrypha, aimed to show just how vast the area of non-canonical quasi-biblical writings (such as the Infancy gospels, or the Books of Adam and Eve) can be, again ranging from the Nag Hammadi materials in Coptic to Breton dramatic versions in the eighteenth century.
Key words: European Medieval Studies, Saints’ legends, Christian motifs, theological and literary analysis.
My doctoral research (2010-2014) on the poetic work of the German theologian Dorothee Sölle (1929-2003) has looked at the role of women’s subjectivity in prayer. Under the heading given by “deprivatised prayer” (Sölle, 1971), a politically aware and social articulation of a community of faith informed by the location of the individual, I increasingly explored feminist concerns over the place given to women in literature, language and society and the resources these afford an embodied response in faith praxis. To my mind the poems propose to be read as an embodiment of a discernible women’s culture that recurring references to the question of sisterhood, but also to the complex issues raised by sexual relations, bring to the fore. While my study emphasised the creative openings for engagement by the reader with these texts, the aspect that I am looking to pursue in exchange with a shared interest in this research group shift emphasis away from an exclusive engagement with Sölle’s oeuvre. In the course of research I have become fascinated by the range of Postwar women writers in German who treat of the encounter with heteronormative, male dominated culture in terms of religious imagery. I intend to further explore “women’s culture” as a crossing point in discourse, not merely between a traditional (or as the case may be non-traditional) division of the sexes, but also in light of claiming a language for addressing the divine.
Together with Michael Marten, I am co-editor of the book Saints and Cultural Trans-/Mission (St. Augustin: Academia Verlag, 2013).
My research interests include siblings and birth order, childhoods and youth transitions in Latin America, rural livelihoods in China, Vietnam and India, and children’s food practices in Scotland. In particular, my recent work explores ways of learning across majority world and minority world childhoods, having co-edited the books: Children and Young People’s Relationships: Learning Across Majority and Minority Worlds (Routledge, 2014) and Global Perspectives on Rural Childhood and Youth (Routledge, 2007).
I was a partner in a multi-disciplinary, EC funded project which looked at Highland Aquatic Resources and Sustainable Development in Rural China, Vietnam and India (HighARCS). Our project team have just developed on online toolkit for integrating conservation, livelihood and policy action plans with local communities: http://www.wraptoolkit.org/. This HighARCS project considered the role of aquatic resources in relation to livelihoods among food-insecure households at five sites in Asia: Guandong, China; Uttrakhand, India; West Bengal, India; Northern Vietnam and Central Vietnam. My role in HighARCS was to ensure that gender and age were mainstreamed throughout the project in a meaningful way which resulted in the inclusion of women and children during both data generation and action planning. A long-term youth project which started during my doctoral research, has involved looking at young people’s livelihood trajectories and patterns of migration in rural Bolivia and Argentina.
I am Lecturer in Film & Media and Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, and specialise in African and Arab women’s cinema. I am interested in activist, non-fiction, animation and political film, and specifically in the manner in which the relationship between director, subject and spectator is established and developed. My research focuses on the manner in which stylistic, thematic and formal choices impact audience reception of the film and solidarity across the screen. I am Co-Investigator on an AHRC-funded project with Prof. Will Higbee at the University of Exeter on a project focusing on Moroccan Cinema, where we are currently working on the restoration and digitisation of some pioneering films.
Outside of my academic work, I also regularly programme and curate specialised programmes for film festivals worldwide, most consistently with Africa in Motion in Edinburgh & Glasgow. I founded a film festival in Antwerp, Belgium: MONA Film Festival, dedicated to the Middle East and North Africa.
I have published articles internationally, and co-edited Art and Trauma in Africa (with Lizelle Bisschoff, IB Tauris, 2012) and Film Festivals and the Middle East(with Dina Iordanova, St Andrews, 2014). An edited collection on Animation in the Middle East (which won the BAFTSS award) came out with IB Tauris in 2017, and my first monograph Negotiating Dissidence: The Pioneering Women of Arab Documentary was also published in March 2017, with Edinburgh University Press. A new monograph – Women in African Cinema, co-written with Lizelle Bisschoff – is forthcoming with Routledge.