Mathilda Shepard

PhD Candidate, Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellow
New Cabell Hall 436
Office Hours:
On Fellowship


Ph.D., Spanish, University of Virginia (expected 2022)

M.A., Spanish, University of Virginia (2018)

B.A., Spanish w/ Religious Studies minor, University of Virginia (2015)

Research Interests

· 20th and 21st century Latin American and Caribbean cultural studies

· Politics and aesthetics of protest, revolution and human rights

· Visual culture

· Race and ethnicity studies

· Transnationalisms and solidarity movements

· Environmental humanities


“Life Politics: Race, Ecology and Dissident Aesthetics in Colombia” critically reinterprets the cultural politics of human rights in the Americas through a study of Colombian artists and intellectuals working within Black, Indigenous and campesino movements since the 1970s. Focusing on a multimedia archive of activist writings, films and visual art, this project examines how the language of peace and reconciliation has been instrumental to the construction of the Colombian racial state and its reconfiguration in the era of human rights. It then outlines a theory of “life politics” to describe dissident reckonings with political violence that seek to correct the racial, ideological and ecological exclusions underpinning North Atlantic conceptualizations of what it means to be “human” and hold democratic “rights.” In doing so, this study proposes that life politics offers a useful framework for understanding contemporary alliances among antimilitarist, antiracist and environmental justice activisms across the Americas, from the transnational movement in defense of Black life to Indigenous struggles for the rights and liberation of Mother Earth.


· "Una Opción Sutil de Protestar: Literary Magazines, Subterranean Resistance and Life Politics in Putumayo, Colombia." Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Vol. 30, Issue 3, 2021 (forthcoming).

· “Desplazamientos entretejidos: imaginarios transicionales y la diasporización de la memoria en los Tejidos de Mampuján,” Revista de Estudios Colombianos 53, enero-junio 2019.

· (Review) Paschel, Tianna. 2016. Becoming Black Political Subjects: Movements and Ethno-Racial Rights in Colombia and Brazil, Afro-Hispanic Review Vol. 37, Issue 2, 2018.

· "Privatized Military Industry." Global South Studies: A Collective Publication with The Global South. August 17, 2017.

· "Network Power." Global South Studies: A Collective Publication with the Global South. August 17, 2017.


University of Virginia

· SPAN 3300, Texts and Interpretations (Fall 2019 and Spring 2020)

· SPAN 3010, Advanced Grammar and Composition (Spring 2019)

· SPAN 2020, Intermediate Spanish (Fall 2017, Spring 2018)

Universidad del Atlántico (Barranquilla, Colombia)

· English Levels 1, 2 and 5 (Semesters I and II 2015-16)

· Advanced English Conversation (Semester I 2015)


· “Para desalambrar la tierra hay que desalambrar el corazón: Liberating Mother Earth as Life Politics in Cauca, Colombia,” Modern Language Association Convention, January 2021.

· "A Subtle Form of Protest: Literary Magazines and Subterranean Resistance in Putumayo, Colombia," UVA Symposium on Art and Confrontation in the Americas, September 30, 2019

· “Jungles and the Colombian Conflict,” Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment Biennial Conference, June 27, 2019

· “Una opción sutil de Protestar: Archive, affect and Library Activism in the Revista Literaria del Putumayo,” Latin American Studies Association Congress, May 25, 2019

· “Praxis Program Roundtable,” Decolonizing the Digital Humanities Symposium, University of Virginia, April 5-6, 2019.

· “Weaving Networks of Dissent: Displacement, Justice and Afro-diasporic Memory in the Community Quilts of Mampuján.” UVA Global South Studies Symposium, March 29-30, 2019.

· “Minimal Computing Workshop,” UVA Scholars’ Lab, March 5, 2019.

Public Humanities and Digital Scholarship

· Editor, Cultural Production section of Colombia Syllabus / Primera Línea Académica. June 2021-Present.

· Co-Organizer, Cowards Don’t Make History: A Discussion about Participatory Action Research, Fall 2020. Sponsored by the Public Humanities Lab at the Institute for the Humanities and Global Cultures.

· Co-Organizer, Symposium on Art and Confrontation in the Americas, Fall 2019. Sponsored by the Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation, UVA Arts Council, UVA Library, Institute for the Humanities and Global Cultures, Fundación Puntos de Encuentro, Centro de las Américas and Page-Barbour Fund.

· Digital Humanities External Review Committee, Fall 2019

· Project Liaison, Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship (ILiADS), College of Wooster. Summer 2019.

Grants and Awards

· Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2021-2022

· IHGC Public Humanities Lab (University of Virginia, 2019-2020)

· Center for Global Inquiry + Innovation Grant (University of Virginia, Fall 2018)

· Praxis Fellowship (UVA Scholars’ Lab 2018-19)

· Charles Gordon Reid Summer Fellowship (UVA Spanish Department, Summer 2018)

· Digital Humanities Summer Institute Grant (University of Victoria, Summer 2018)

· Fulbright Colombia Scholarship (2015-2016)

· Jefferson Fellowship (Jefferson Scholars Foundation, 2015-2021)

· International Rescue Committee Outstanding Service Award (April 2015).