Murphy, Mary Kaitlin M
Associate Professor

I am an Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory at the University of Arizona, as well as affiliate faculty in the School of Art, the Human Rights Practice Program, and Latin American Studies. I research and teach on hemispheric American studies, performance studies, visual culture, decolonial theory, culture and politics, human rights, and memory studies.

My first book, Mapping Memory: Visuality, Affect, and Embodied Politics in the Americas (Fordham UP), interweaves visual and performance theory with memory and affect studies to theorize memory mapping as a visual and spatial strategy that has emerged in opposition to political discourses and visual economies that overlook certain subjects and human rights abuses. I am co-editor of the recently-published Routledge Handbook of Memory Activism, which is the first systematic effort to map the fast-growing phenomenon of memory activism and to delineate a new field of research that lies at the intersection of memory and social movement studies. My writing can be found in Memory Studies, Genocide Studies and PreventionTDR: The Drama ReviewJournal of Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture, Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Journal of Spanish and Latin American Cinemas, Human Rights Review, in various anthologies, and elsewhere. I am currently at work on two book-length projects, the first of which is tentatively titled Future Histories: Memory, Violence, and Decolonial Reimaginings.

In addition to my academic work, I work as a consultant in both English and Spanish in a range of areas, including memory, civil and human rights, transitional justice and community-based reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction. I am a Fulbright Specialist with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and World Learning and welcome project discussions related to my areas of expertise.

I received my PhD in Performance Studies and MA in Visual Culture, both from New York University, and my BA in Community Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz. I completed an executive education program in Public Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School in 2022. 

Research, Teaching, and Advising Areas:
Social, cultural, and critical theory, including visual and performance studies, decolonial theory, hemispheric American studies, affect, memory and human rights, and post-conflict recovery.

Courses Taught (Sample List)

SCCT 500: Introduction to Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory
SCCT 510: The Politics and the Senses: Debates in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory
SPAN 571: Visual Culture, Performance, and Political Life
SPAN 571: Decolonial Theory, Thinking, and Practices
SPAN 551: Introduction to Memory Studies 
SPAN: 571: Contemporary Debates in Memory Studies

HRTS 541: Advancing Human Rights Through the Arts

Introduction to Literary Analysis
Theater and Performance of the Hemispheric Americas
Visual Culture, Performance, and Politics
Art and Politics in the Americas
Issues in Latin American Society and Popular Culture
Major Works in Latin American Literature
Human Rights and Documentary Film
Cultural Memory and the Politics of Place in the Americas

Human Rights and Resistance in the Americas
Arts, Resistance, and Memory Wars in the Hemispheric Americas



Currently Teaching