Javier Guerrero

Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
(on sabbatical Fall 2022)
Office Phone
346 East Pyne
  • Ph.D. in Latin American Studies from New York University
  • Licenciatura in Film Studies from the Universidad Central de Venezuela

On sabbatical Fall 2022


Javier Guerrero’s research focuses on the intersection between visual culture and sexuality in twentieth- and twenty-first century Latin America. His scholarship places special importance on the body as the site of the enactment and re-enactment of disputes over its materiality. He explores the unexpected ways that the body participates in its own material processes, at times transforming itself, as it deploys novel technologies that destabilize the symbolic sphere of sex.

Guerrero is the author of Tecnologías del cuerpo. Exhibicionismo y visualidad en América Latina (Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2014) and the editor of Relatos enfermos (Conaculta/Literal Publishing, 2015) and Vulgaridad Capital. Políticas de lo vulgar y desafíos del “buen gusto” en América Latina (Taller de Letras, 2015). He is the coeditor of Excesos de cuerpo: relatos de contagio y enfermedad en América Latina (Eterna Cadencia 2009, reprinted 2012) and the two-volume dossier Cuerpos enfermos/Contagios culturales (Estudios 2010, 2011). He is also the author of a book on the Venezuelan filmmaker Mauricio Walerstein (FCN, 2002) and the novel Balnearios de Etiopia (Eterna Cadencia, 2010).

Guerrero’s book Tecnologías del cuerpo. Exhibicionismo y visualidad en América Latina consists of five chapters, on Reinaldo Arenas, Salvador Novo, Armando Reverón, Fernando Vallejo, and Mario Bellatin. Each chapter follows the materiality of the body as it passes through the visual and fictional registers to model itself and be modeled in a process that is always incomplete, unstable, and vulnerable to disruption. This somatic dimension can be portrayed in literature, the visual arts, photography, and especially the gray zones that result from the confusion of these fictions (such as the archive). The book proposes that exhibitionism and visuality are indispensable aspects of any exploration of the sexing process of the body.

Guerrero is currently working on two new books, Synthetic Skin: On Dolls and Miniature Cultures and The Cinema of Cruelty.

Synthetic Skin: On Dolls and Miniature Cultures seeks to understand dolls in three different frameworks: first, that of the racialized and gendered Other (or the way that dolls, as cultural fantasies, are marked as gendered and disposable bodies); second, that of the continued denaturalization of the body (or the concept of artificial and posthuman lives, and experimentation with prosthetic anatomies); and third, that of dolls as substitutes (and the possible destitution of subjectivity that this implies). The project, which explores productions by Latin American visual artists, performers, filmmakers, and writers, looks at the racialized and corporalized fantasies that these dolls inspire.

The Cinema of Cruelty draws on Antonin Artaud’s ideas around theatre of cruelty and André Bazin’s belief in the subversive capacity of auteur film. The study, which looks at a group of Latin American and Spanish films and filmmakers, explores the aesthetic of cruelty and its strategic relevance for Hispanic film. This monograph understands film as a text and cruelty as a cinematic trope as it reflects on spectatorship, the ability of film to inflict pain, and the function of film as a modern spectacle of cruelty. The book examines films by Alonso, Almodóvar, Bigas Luna, Buñuel, Carri, Escalante, Hermosillo, Jodorowsky, Larraín, Noé, Reygadas, Ripstein, Rowe, Martel, Pons, and Ulive, among others, as well as the relationship between these films and international auteur films by filmmakers like Chabrol, Denis, Despentes, Haneke, Ki-duk, Oshima, Pasolini, and Von Trier.

Guerrero’s current projects include an edited volume, Visual Object: Archive, Visualities, and the Politics of Looking, which asserts that materiality is a distinguishing characteristic of the Latin American archive. The volume reevaluates the artifacts contained in various collections—including public, sentimental, literary, and art collections—to produce new readings that contradict and disturb issues that have already been organized, constituted, and archived. He is also working on a journal dossier, Correspondences of Discontent (Iberoamericana, 2016), about the role and power of personal diaries, correspondence, and open letters as genres that reveal strategic alliances, affects, and private matters, but also disputes, ruptures, and later reconciliations.

Javier Guerrero holds a Ph.D. in Latin American Studies from New York University and a L icenciatura in Film Studies from the Universidad Central de Venezuela. Before coming to the US, he was President of the Venezuelan Cinemateca Nacional , where he curated more than twenty-five international film series and festivals. He is Chair of the Section on Venezuelan Studies of LASA.