PhD Oral Exam - Celia Vara, Communication Studies
When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
By looking at corporeal agency, kinesthesia, and embodiment from a feminist perspective, this dissertation investigates the corporeal emancipatory strategies employed by the Catalonian artist Fina Miralles. It focuses specifically on her series of works from 1972-76, including Sensitiveland, Natura Morta, Fenòmens Atmosfèrics, Translacions, Relacions and Petjades. It argues that producing corporeal sensorial knowledge generated from her experience and movement is a transgressive and emancipatory act (even if only temporarily) in the context of the acute restrictions on body politics during the Franco dictatorship (1935-1975). This dissertation argues that Fina Miralles’ performances explore new corporeal experiences and existences in order to inhabit bodies in new and possibly empowering ways. Her artwork helps to cause a momentary rupture in the chauvinist socialization of the Francoist system that reinforced women’s disembodiment, or their inhabiting objectified bodies. The dissertation then turns to the expressive capacity of the body and its possibilities as a rich source of knowledge (within the body and in the body’s relation with the world) in feminist liberatory processes. Drawing from my research experience developed in and through the fieldwork and archival stages, the dissertation proposes ways of “doing” research based on “embodied methodologies” (Spatz, 2017), “kinesthetic empathy” (Sklar, 1994; Reynolds & Reason, 2012), and proceeding from a situated feminist approach (Haraway, 1988).
1 - Relacions refer to the series of performances, and also to the whole aspect of relating (to herself and to her surroundings) that constitutes her oeuvre.