Framing the Body: The Juárez Feminicides in Contemporary Mexican Visual Culture (1993-2013)

Anna Kingsley

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This doctoral thesis presents a critical examination of selected visual responses to the Juárez feminicides within the media of art, cinematography, photography and documentary filmmaking, many of which have received limited academic attention. Central to the reading of these works is an exploration of the represented feminicide body that functions as a prominent and persistent motif throughout, whether framed in its absent or present form, alive or deceased, conceptual or mimetic. Amongst these responses, the body is visualised variously and is attached to varying agendas: it is reconstructed in order to shed light on the systems of power that both produce and erase it at the border; it is re-visioned as a site of resistance that counteracts the spectacles of violence that have dehumanised it; and it is re-embodied in order to evoke its absence and to remember it as a subject that has been lost. In this thesis, I propose that the body, in its various representations, functions as a privileged site of meaning. It is shown to be a vantage-point from which to contemplate the politics of precarious female existence at the U.S.-Mexico border whilst reclaiming visibility for the victims whose lives have been rendered invisible by violence and unheeding justice systems. My analyses will draw on the creative treatment of the body, engaging with its re-imagining, aestheticisation and portrayal. The body’s function within these visual texts, I will argue, serves as a critical space for examining the intersecting social, political and economic forces which underpin anti-female terror in the contemporary Mexican context. Closely intertwined with the aesthetics of these visual responses are questions of a decisive ethical nature in relationship to exploitation, spectatorship, and the sensationalising of gender-violence which will be addressed accordingly. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the field of study, and the divergent aesthetic practices discussed in this thesis, the analyses of the selected visual works will be supported by a multifocal theoretical framework, with an approximation to crucial scholarly discourses that link to notions of disposability, necropolitics, biopolitics, bare life, sexual violence, absence and grievability.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Lee Six, Abigail, Supervisor
  • Sánchez Prado, Ignacio, Supervisor, External person
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Oct 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017


  • Body
  • Feminicide
  • Necropolitics
  • U.S.-Mexico border
  • Visual culture

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