Visual and Embodied Politics
: Activism and the Contemporary Feminist Movement in Peru

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis uses visual and embodied politics as a novel way of understanding the contemporary feminist movement in Peru, and the renewal of feminist activism in the country since 2016. In so doing, it provides original insights into the role of contemporary creative activist interventions broadly conceived to include practices ranging from performance to digital media, to quotidian actions. It argues that through these contemporary feminist activism in Peru targets cultural and societal change and moves away from strategies specifically targeting the state and legal change. This ‘visual and embodied’ turn reflects disillusionment with the institutional approaches of feminism in the 1990s and 2000s. This is not a new phenomenon. Rather the ways that these strategies are used by young activists suggests a distinct generational shift for feminism today. In the digital age, the visual politics of feminism are essential for transmitting ideas across boundaries between the online and the offline, the transnational and the local. Although the digital seems to dominate current discussions around activism, the body remains central to contemporary activism. It operates as both an activist site for bodily autonomy but also as a tool for activism, with activists putting their bodies on the line in order to make their claims. The intersection of embodied and visual politics raises important questions of representation. If the body is both a site and tool of activism, then we must consider issues of race, ethnicity, gender identity and disability when asking which bodies are on the line in this new activist environment? Further, what role does the digital play in shaping visual and embodied politics? Studies of visual and embodied forms of activism have tended to prioritise either visual studies or social movement studies perspectives, rarely combining the two. By taking an interdisciplinary approach that draws on in-person and digital ethnography, interviews, and visual methods, this thesis provides a new approach to the study of artivism as feminist activism. Combining approaches through interdisciplinarity is essential to fully understand this issue as it straddles both the online and the offline; the local and the transnational; the visual and the embodied. In doing so, this thesis complicates our perspectives on feminist activism in Peru, and new feminisms across Latin America by providing novel analysis of the ways that activists are able to negotiate the shifts between physical and digital, and create new spaces of activism, through visual and embodied politics.
Date of Award28 Jan 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • UCL University College London

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