Dr Maria Chiara D'Argenio

Associate Professor


Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Joined UCL
4th Jan 2016

Research summary

Maria Chiara's main research interests are the representation of Indigenous cultures and ethnicity in Latin American cinema; Peruvian visual culture and processes of citizenship formation; Latin American magazine culture; early cinema and modernity in Latin America; decoloniality and inter/culturality. She has a strong interest in interdisciplinary research.

Since the completion of her PhD in 2007, she has presented papers at conferences in Mexico, Cuba, Peru, USA, Spain, Italy and the UK; written chapters for edited books; published articles in peer-reviewed journals (including Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies; Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies; Studies in Spanish and Spanish American Cinemas; Postcolonial Studies Journal). 

Her book Indigenous Plots in Twenty-First Century Latin American Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022),delineates a turn in recent Latin American filmmaking towards inter/cultural feature films made by non-Indigenous directors(which tell Indigenous stories in Indigenous languages and are played by Indigenous actors) and are aimed at a global audience. The book examines the critical reflection offered by recent inter/cultural films and the socio-cultural impact they might have had; it gauges the extent to which non-Indigenous directors who set out to engage critically with colonial legacies and imaginaries, as well as with contemporary Indigenous marginalization, succeed in addressing these concerns by ‘unthinking’ and ‘undoing’ Western centrism and coloniality. 

In 2022, she co-organized Indigenous Ethnicities on Screen, a month of in-person and online film screenings, academic talks and Q&As with Indigenous and non-Indigenous filmmakers on the topic of cinema and indigeneity in Latin America.

Her other main area of research is modern magazine culture, which is part of a broader interest in how visual media shaped citizens’ experience of modernity in Peru and Latin America.

In 2019, she edited a special issue of the prestigious Revista Iberoamericana on Modernity, Visuality and the Press in Latin America, as well as co-organised the international conference Periodicals on the Periphery? Magazines and Print Culture in Latin America, which took place at UCL.

She is currently co-editing the volume Periodically Speaking: History, Politics and Visuality in Latin American Modern Print Culture (under contract with University of Florida press) and writing her second monograph Envisioning Identities in Peruvian Visual Culture (19th-21st centuries).   

She is also facilitating conversations around the ‘Decolonization of the Curriculum’ in the Departments of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies by leading several initiatives at UCL and organising workshops at major conferences such as those of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland (AHGBI) and the Latin American Studies Association(LASA).

Teaching summary

Maria Chiara teaches interdisciplinary modules on race and ethnicity in Latin American cinema, journeys between Italy and Latin America, subalternity and women's writing. She has taught Spanish and Latin American literature, film, visual culture and visual arts at both UG and PG level. She also teaches Spanish language to first and second-year students. 

In the academic year 2021-22, she will be teaching the following modules: 

SPAN0006 Introduction to Spanish Film

SPAN0012 The Latin American Supernatural

CMII0141 Race and Ethnicity in Latin American Cinema 

SPAN0001 Spanish Language I: Grammar

SPAN0016 Spanish Language II: Grammar

SPAN0016 Spanish Language II: Additional Contents & Skills


University College London
Doctorate, Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy | 2019


Maria Chiara holds a PhD in Hispanic Literature (University of Naples) and a MA in History of Film & Visual Media (University of London) as well as diplomas in language teaching. She has been recognised by the HEA as a Fellow.

Before settling in the UK, she lived and worked in Italy, Spain, France, Argentina, Mexico and Peru. Prior to starting teaching at UCL in 2016, she lectured on Latin American Studies at King’s College London and the University of Naples. More recently, she has taught at the Universidad de La Habana in Cuba and the Università La Sapienza in Rome.