Dr James Kent

Personal profile

Dr James Clifford Kent is Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies and Visual Cultures and Director of Liberal Arts in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Royal Holloway, University of London. His practice-led teaching and research focuses on curatorial and photographic practice, public engagement, and visual culture.

Kent has taught at various institutions across the UK and abroad at the Universidad de la Habana, Cuba. He gained his PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2012 and was appointed Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2016. He was Associate Director of the Humanities & Arts Research Institute from 2018-20.

Kent has curated exhibitions of his own photographic work both in the UK and Cuba. His Arts Council-funded exhibition Memories of a Lost Shark toured the UK and Cuba in 2013-14. His first monograph entitled Aesthetics and the Revolutionary City: Real and Imagined Havana was published as part of Palgrave Macmillan’s Studies of the Americas series in 2019.

Kent photographed Cuba in the wake of former Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro's death in 2016 and was awarded funding through the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) flagship Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) for his project ¡Yo soy Fidel!”: Post-Castro Cuba and the Cult of Personality (2018-19)Drawing on fieldwork and practice-led research, the accompanying exhibition This is Cuba: Documentary photography after Fidel (2019) included images taken by internationally renowned photographers such as Raúl Cañibano and Michael Christopher Brown.

Following the success of this exhibition, Kent worked as Exhibition Liaison for Cañibano's first UK solo exhibition Raúl Cañibano: Chronicles of an Island at The Photographers' Gallery, London (2019). He co-organised the GCRF-funded photography workshop Beyond the Frame: Innovative approaches to curatorial and photographic practice in Havana, Cuba (2019) and gave an invited talks on his collaboration with Raúl Cañibano at the University of Cambridge in 2020. 

His latest project explores people's experiences of pregnancy, birth and becoming a parent during the pandemic. It featured widely in the media and was awarded one of The Lancet’s annual photography prizes in 2021. Kent showcased work from the project at Cambridge Festival and co-founded the Generation COVID collaborative project with Dr Sarah Lloyd-Fox (UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, University of Cambridge) in 2022. The current phase of the project is funded by Cambridge Reproduction.

For more details on events, talks and workshops, click here.

Teaching (2022-23)
LA1000 Cultural Encounters
LA2000 Power, Society & Cultural Practice
LA3000 Liberal Arts Project (Photography)
ML1204 Tales of the City: Introduction to Thematic Analysis
SN2122 Rebels, Revolution and Representation in Latin America

Consultation & feedback hours (2022-23)

Educational background 
BA London
MRes London
PhD London

Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy

Member, Latin American Studies Association
Member, Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland
Member, Centre for Visual Cultures, Royal Holloway, University of London
Member, Centre for GeoHumanities, Royal Holloway, University of London
Member, Cuba Research Forum

Aesthetics and the Revolutionary City possesses elements to be revered. Its keen historical passage through visual renderings of Havana, primarily carried out by outsiders, is diligently researched and well narrated … Kent’s technical savvy, matched by a respect for the photographers and filmmakers he analyzes, reflects his first-hand experience with photography and film … essential for scholars in Cuban studies with special interest in visual culture.” – Jacqueline Loss, New West Indian Guide, 2019

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