Foto del docente

Cristina Demaria

Full Professor

Department of the Arts

Academic discipline: M-FIL/05 Philosophy and Theory of Language

Delegate for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity


Keywords: gender testimony semiotics memory mass media identity representation violence trauma documentary film

1. Semiotics, cultural studies and visual culture: memory, post-memory and genres of testimonies

The main goal of this line of research is to advance a research project  I've been working on for several years, whose main objective is an epistemological and methodological comparison beteween a semiotics of culture and a socio-semiotics on one hand, and cultural studies and visual culture on the other end. In specific, the aim is to focuss on the categories which, besides being discussed in both field of research, guide the investigation of contemporary cultural forms, as those of text, practice, discourse, image and genre. Such categories will be examined by looking at the interdisciplinary theme of memory, at the processes of oblivion and remembering  which preside the recomposition of  traumatized individual and collective identities. It is a topic that will be developed within the activities of the Centre for the interdisciplinary study of memories and cultural traumas - TRAME ( of the Dipartimento di Discipline della Comunicazione. Therefore, the aim is both to advance the research on the semiotic specificity of the categorie of individual trauma and cultural trauma, and to explore the new directions of research of the field of trauma and visual studies, such as the debate on concepts as that of "multi-directional memory" and that of "post-memory", and on the intersection between Holocaust Studies and Post-colonial Theories.


2. Narrating trauma: the documentary status of images

With the help of some methodological tools developed in the research project n.1, this line of research will focuss on the contemporary transofrmation of the categories of "document" and "documentary". What is today a document, and how, in respect to memory and its writing - in respect to testimony -, does nowadays constitute an evidence? And how do images, in all their current permutations and translations, participate in the construction of what is considered "authentic" and "real"? This research will concentrate first of all on a corpus of documentary texts, from social photographies to so-called "docu-auteur" documentary movies, to visual artists' installation, in order to find and compare different strategies of the visual representation of testimony. In specific, the research project will concentrate on the "documentary turn" of memory studies in order to investigate the specificity of a genre charactherized by its ambivalent positioning between reality and fiction, authenticity and manipulation.

3. Gender, testimony and violence in contemporary visual culture

Developing some of the results emerged in the research projects n. 1 and n. 2., the specificity of female testimonies of extreme experiences will be tested, that is the role of gender in the writing of visual trauma. Starting from the academic debate on gender and trauma, the project will focus on how theories have been integrated and translated by female visual artists and film-makers who produce texts, perfomances and video-installations which, along with questioning the ways women are particular kinds of victims, also help re-defining the relationship between women and violence in the contemporary cultural imaginary.