PhD Student Profile


M. Giovanna Miralles T. de Wilkin

PhD Student

School: Creative Arts and Industries

Campus: Canterbury

Biographical note

Giovanna graduated from the International Cinema and Television School (EICTV), Cuba, with a scholarship from the Fundación del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano. She has worked in different areas of art and film production in Latin America and Europe, specialising in documentaries. In Guatemala, she studied the oral tradition and rituals of the Maya to become an Aj’quijab’ or spiritual leader. Since moving to the UK she studied sociology at the Open University, and more recently worked in two documentaries: UMATURKA: The Call of the Water in 2016 as director, and Legacies of 1936, as scriptwriting editor and editor, in 2018.

Giovanna’s research is focused in the areas of: documentary, postmemory, feminism, identity, decolonisation, and cultural resistance.

Giovanna was awarded a University Scholarship to undertake the PhD study.

PhD Research Topic

Memory, identity and cultural resistance in Maya Guatemala from documentary to fiction: A study of women’s postmemory, rebuilding and coping with the repercussions of the civil war.

Research outline

Giovanna’s practice based research study will take a critical postmemory approach for the production of a documentary, to understand how Maya women are rebuilding their communities and lives in the socially divided, post-civil war Guatemala. The theme will be addressed through: critical ethnography of memory and qualitative research to provide a conceptual and methodological framework in relation to the construction of public memory.

The research approach of ethnographic immersion in Maya women’s organisations and daily life, will permit the emergence of different narratives, looking at social and private spheres—where women maintain their identity, culture and knowledge—with an emphasis on the role played by: traditional practices, oral history and rituals for memory, and their influence in wider discussions of cultural resistance, feminism and decolonisation.

The documentary will be filmed using a combination of: ethnographic documentary, indigenous video, performative documentary and autoethnography, with the application of new Latin American cinema discourse. This will enable different perspectives in order to explain the collective character of memory, and to analyse the contexts of production, linking facts of representation with facts of reception by exploring the use of documentary film as a tool for qualitative research in social sciences.

This multidisciplinary study will contribute to the analysis of the impact of documentary film in postmemory studies, and its possible repercussion on social movements that strive for a fairer society in social- political struggling post-civil war countries.

Supervisory Team

  • Professor Shane Blackman (first supervisor)
  • Dr Andy Birtwistle (chair)

Research Outputs

M. Giovanna Miralles T. de Wilkin (2020) ‘The Latin American young people of the cold war: Memory, documentaries, politics of representing, critical ethnography and the exercise of art in coping with the repercussions of the Guatemalan civil war.’ CCCU PGRA Conference.

Teaching Experience

Lecturer on: ‘Sound Techniques for Film’. Santo Tomas de Aquino University, La Paz, Bolivia 1999.

Lecturer Seminar: ‘Scriptwriting Techniques’. Catholic University of Bolivia San Pablo. SECRAD Service of Training on Radio and TV for Development, La Paz, Bolivia, 1999.

Lecturer for the Workshops: ‘Broadcasting Images for Women’s Rights’ & ‘Notions of cinematographic language applied to education’. Centre of Women’s Studies, Tegucigalpa, Honduras. 1995.


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Last edited: 04/06/2020 14:31:00